Municipal agencies worldwide grapple with the impact of aging and deteriorating infrastructure. Within gravity sewer systems, municipalities face challenges like capacity loss due to inflow and infiltration, and potential structural failures leading to collapses and sinkholes. These issues can result in sanitary sewer overflows, backups, additional pumping, O&M costs, and environmentally significant discharges. To proactively combat these challenges, the City of Miami Beach, FL is not only leveling up the quality of sewer inspections but setting new industry standards by taking steps to enable data-driven decisions and automate manual processes.
Traditionally, sewer programs involve contractors conducting CCTV video inspections in the field and saving the video on physical media, such as a flash drive. Subsequently, the contractors manually perform QA/QC by watching the footage to identify and classify features and defects. After this, submissions are made to the municipality for verification, which can take weeks or even months to complete, often involving iterative exchanges with the contractor for clarification and quality assurance. This traditional method introduces a considerable amount of redundancy with multiple layers of review and back-and-forth communication, contributing to the overall complexity and inefficiencies in the inspection workflow.
From manual process to technology enabled
To expedite inspections and improve the condition of gravity sewer systems, the City of Miami Beach has adopted Digital AECOM’s PipeInsights™ platform. Rooted in AECOM's decades-long expertise in sewer management, this platform becomes a catalyst for improving the way the city assesses infrastructure performance, enhancing the level of service and reliability, and mitigating risk. Leveraging AI algorithms trained on extensive sewer inspection data, PipeInsights automates defect recognition and classification, significantly improving the efficiency of QA/QC processes. This not only ensures a streamlined inspection workflow but aligns to the city’s overarching goal of improving efficiency and reducing management costs. The platform also provides data-driven rehabilitation recommendations, that is already yielding ROI for the city, by prescribing more cost-effective ways to maximize asset lifespans and elevate decision-making to a level that was previously unattainable with traditional methods.
"PipeInsights will not only save us time and money by addressing the efficiency of inspections but it will also improve efficiency of our entire invoicing process,” expressed Patricia Rendon, Regulatory Compliance Manager for the City of Miami Beach, FL. “Thanks to our ‘AI helper’ issues will be automatically flagged for us, which means instead of waiting up to six weeks for videos to be reviewed, we can now verify inspections and turn around payment to the contractor in a matter of days. Additionally, with everything centralized in one location, we can now share information transparently, enabling better collaboration with our broader operations team."
Standardizing on NASSCO best practices
In alignment with the integration of intelligent technology and automation, the City of Miami Beach is embracing industry best practices and partnering with AECOM’s water division to provide training that will certify city staff on National Association of Sewer Service Companies (NASSCO) standards.
“Implementing NASSCO best practices will be a game-changer,” said Patricia “because it empowers our staff and contractors to ensure that the highest quality inspection standards are consistently achieved.”
The National Association of Sewer Service Companies Pipeline Assessment Certification Program (PACP™) is the North American Standard for pipeline condition assessment. The NASSCO training program offers participants a comprehensive understanding of the structural, operational, construction, and miscellaneous features of a pipe. This knowledge will empower city staff to assess pipe conditions for various purposes, including Inflow and Infiltration, pre-acceptance evaluations, routine assessments, capital improvements, pre/post-rehabilitation surveys, and other related programs in a consistent way that maintains high-quality industry standards.