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Integrated city systems, unified data, & automation drive 316% increase in field efficiency

Seattle, WA, USA

At a Glance

Easier and defensible compliance, improved infrastructure preservation, and more cost-effective operations were the results of Seattle Public Utilities integrating city systems to better manage their FOG program, automate time-consuming tasks, and improve workforce effectiveness.

Problem Addressed

NEW: FOG program dashboard have been launched for Seattle Public Utilities to enable user-specific information for at-a-glance insights to quickly prioritize actions and streamline field work, and reduce operating expenses and maintenance costs even further.

With more than 5,000 restaurants and food service establishments (FSEs) in Seattle, the city’s Fats, Oils and Grease program is vital to protecting community health, keeping sewers flowing, and preventing unlawful discharges from entering the system.

As a small team of five inspectors and one program supervisor responsible for the large program, Gary Christiansen, program supervisor for the Wastewater Source Control Program at Seattle Public Utilities, needed to optimize efficiency wherever possible.

“The reality is our small team is not able to inspect every FSE immediately; our success depends on identifying problem areas and prioritizing establishments that require the greatest attention. Our overarching goal is to create a data-driven vs. an effort-driven program in order to serve the city of Seattle in a cost-effective and efficient manner,” Christiansen said.

For a little over 15 years, the city has used Linko, which is a software program that tracks data from FSEs, as well as Esri ArcGIS, to map sewer lines and connections and identify hot spots. The problem was these two systems were not integrated. If they were, the city could use its GIS system to identify which FSEs were discharging to which service connections and then cross-reference that data with its FOG data.

“We realized if we connected these two software solutions, we would be able to better manage our FOG program, automate tasks that were time consuming and reduce human error in the process,” Christiansen said.

Seattle Public Utilities used/is using Linko for FOG program management to address this/these challenge(s).

Solution(s) Used

Linko Online manages the FOG program's day-to-day tasks including facility database, inspection scheduling, risk assessment, and more.

Linko Remote Inspector enables a remote completion of inspections using customizable smart forms to digitize observations, attach photos or notes, and automatically trigger follow-on workflows.

Linko POM Portal helps waste hauler's submit pumpout-manifests and manage Food Service Establishment's wastewater compliance.

Outcomes

  1. Achieved proactive infrastructure protection by using a data-driven approach to optimize work processes and increase completed inspections by 316% over 4 years.
  2. Integrated siloed GIS system and other data for a single-source-of-truth database to execute faster and with more accurately to prevent sewer system overflows and reduce overhead costs.
  3. Used an online, cloud-solution to digitize information immediately, eliminate the need for paper forms, and enable a distributed workforce from the field, home, or office.
  4. Tracked risk assessments faster with smart forms to specify the required data and automatically calculate the discharge risk, assign a risk value, and tailor the follow-up schedule.
  5. Maximized human resources and strengthened partnerships with local business by implementing digital processes that enable self-serve cleaning verification and problem resolution.

Lessons Learned

  1. Consolidating GIS and other data alongside FOG program data enabled more cost-effective management, a more accurate picture of the network, and the condition of actual sewers.
  2. Software automation and streamlined workflows reduced labor costs by empowering smaller teams to handle larger programs with less effort, in less time, and with more precision.
  3. The cloud-native application enabled inspectors to access all facility information remotely, provide visibility into real-time compliance, and digitize inspection observations.
  4. Enabling the community with self-service options increase engagement and reduces costs long-term by saving on maintenance, field visits, and violation enforcement.

Something Unique

The data-driven, digital-first approach to FOG management helped serve the City of Seattle in a more cost-effective and efficient way.

Who Should Consider?

Small to large municipalities that track and manage fats, oils, and grease from facilities and restaurants to protect infrastructure, prevent sewer system overflows, and reduce maintenance and overhead costs.