How Dashboards Helps Decision-Makers at Water Utilities

Introduction to Dashboards

By Renee Jutras, Full Stack Developer

Data has become part of the way we tell stories today. Online articles use maps and graphs to add a splash to their stories because, as they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words”. And it’s true - a well thought out data visualization can convey much more information than just a description, and let the viewer draw their own conclusions about the information. The difference between a clear positive trend and a potentially coincidental trend is instantly recognizable on a graph.

Dashboards take graphs even further by adding organization and interactivity. The best dashboard helps you continuously monitor whatever your pain points are while giving you the power to explore your data visually as freely as possible. I like to look at Tableau’s [Data Viz of the Day] for interesting examples of dashboards done right. With a big focus on using data and analytics for operational efficiency and revenue recovery at water utilities, making Valor’s dashboards as useful and informative as possible on a continual basis is top priority.
 

Dashboards vs. Reports for the Water Utility Industry

Water utilities have always needed digestible data to operate, and up until recently that has come primarily from static reports, made either by their hardworking staff or from contractors. An excel report once a month on billing irregularities, or once very couple of years on a proposed rate change doesn’t allow for much innovation though, and looking at the same reports every month or year doesn’t provide any opportunities for data exploration either.

Valor’s dashboards are the counter to these stale reports. We provide near-real-time data in dashboards with filters and parameters for detailed investigation capabilities. Using the filters on our dashboards lets utilities use their knowledge of their own utility and service area to hone in on their intuition and target their efforts in ways static data could not. Providing ways to slice data by meter size, service area, dates, customer types, and much more has given our clients the power to monitor and target specific areas for improvement.

For example, take a look at the difference between an anomaly we detected for a client on a spreadsheet, a graph, and a dashboard.

 Spreadsheets: An anomaly like this can easily go unnoticed.

Spreadsheets: An anomaly like this can easily go unnoticed.

 Graphs: The issue is apparent when displayed visually, but there is not a great way to investigate any further.

Graphs: The issue is apparent when displayed visually, but there is not a great way to investigate any further.

 Dashboards: After playing with the dashboard to narrow down this graph, we discovered the issue only exists for ⅝” multi-family residential meters in Service Area 1. The utility can use this information to take action.

Dashboards: After playing with the dashboard to narrow down this graph, we discovered the issue only exists for ⅝” multi-family residential meters in Service Area 1. The utility can use this information to take action.

In conclusion, in order to take water utilities further into future, better technology is needed. Valor Water Analytics’ dashboards put vital information at the fingertips of the decision-makers at utilities, so that they can start to make actionable decisions based on their data.