GIS user seminar puts spotlight on water issues

September 26th, 2014, Published in Articles: PositionIT


The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) recently held their annual GIS User seminar in Pretoria. The event was predominantly attended by DWS employees, but  other GIS professionals and service providers attended. The focus of the seminar was the exchange of ideas between the department and GIS professionals.

Stuart Martin (GeoTerraImage), Carey Rajah (DWS), Senzo Nkoyane (Esri SA).

Stuart Martin (GeoTerraImage), Carey Rajah (DWS), Senzo Nkoyane (Esri South Africa).

DWS’s Carey Rajah spoke about standardising the water licencing process through a project called e-WULAAS. This will create a single web-based water licensing platform for the licencing data and processing thereof, with benefits such as easy feedback to clients, and a reporting and support tool for the department.

Expanding on the role of software in GIS, Senzo Nkoyane from Esri South Africa, the GIS service provider to the department, spoke about how GIS makes high quality service delivery possible, and also looked at features of the soon to be launched ArcGIS Pro software.

In Stuart Martin’s (from GeoTerraImage) opinion, satellite imagery is an underutilised data source which could benefit the department greatly. Martin considered the value of analysed satellite imagery in water infrastructure and land use planning, including verifying licensing data, mapping the impact of acid mine drainage, monitoring agricultural land use etc., all of which can be used in predicting/identifying growth areas for planning demand and supply.

Speaking on the technicalities of deriving aerial imagery, Southern Mapping’s Michael Breetzke explained the different types of small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS), their capabilities, the types of payloads they can carry, and their data outputs. Aerial Kopter Solutions’ (AKS) Albert Dryfthout elaborated on sUASs, and the value of combining aerial surveying with hydro surveying for deeper insights, and showed how AKS uses both methods in their workflow.

The accuracy of data capturing with all these systems is crucial, specifically for water infrastructure, as Philip Schalekamp emphasised. Schalekamp, who works for both Trail Surveys and Underwater Surveys, explained different ways to capture point clouds in detail.

The department concluded the proceedings with the last two presentations focusing on management systems that the department is developing. Chuene Chokoe spoke about a national integrated water information system, a project which collates the department’s various datasets and displays it in dashboards for quick overviews and decision-making, and is due for completion in August 2015. Lastly, Mpathisi Colwana gave an overview of the Water War Room, an action group established by the DDG of Infrastructure Development: NWRI to respond to water shortage complaints and to identify water problem hotspots.

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