Sewer Management? There’s a GovTech Solution for that.

You may not always think of them, but our sewers are intergerall to city life. The urbanisation of human societies has in the past coincided with the development of functioning sanitary systems. The great Roman naturalist and philosopher Pliney the Elder described Rome’s labyrinthine network of underground sewers as “the most noteworthy things”. In recent years people have not been as respectful to our networks. The temptation to flush non-flushable products can be strong and this has caused issues for city councils around Europe. In the 2010s the media phenomenon of the fatberg came to symbolise everything that was going wrong. The fatbergs, a portmanteau of fat and iceberg, are congealed masses of non-biodegradable cooking oil and other products flushed inappropriately that cause havoc in sewer systems.   

The method of fixing this issue lay in better enforcement of regulations as well as a less fragmented relationship between city councils and businesses. One Irish GovTech startup Swift Comply saw a way of bridging this gap between the regulators and the regulated to help ensure higher levels of compliance. The company was founded by Michael O’Dwyer who in 2008 was working as an engineer for Dublin City Council. Here he saw first hand how outdated processes and communication methods hindered cleanup attempts. 

The FOG (fat, oil and grease) platform was developed to allow regulators to harness the power of self-reporting regulated businesses to help better optimise responses to blockages. It also allows local authorities to better monitor compliance after pump outs and gives service providers the opportunity to upload their records as well. The result is a live view of compliance and activity letting authorities know where the next blockage could be and be able to anticipate any issues. 

SwiftComply has looked at other areas of city council waterway management such as backflow prevention, industrial pretreatment and stormwater management. The idea is to streamline the processes as much as possible to save time and automated repetitive tasks. For example, the stormwater management service allows local authorities to reach out to the public through targeted emailing campaigns and helps them to track the condition of storm drains around their local area.    

Since its inception in Dublin, the company has expanded abroad to the United States where it already has over 400 city clients. This successful GovTech platform showcases the power of digitising systems. Solutions such as these solve many problems for governments and streamlines their processes. In this case this company made already existing legislation more effective simply by empowering local authorities to monitor compliance.  

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t/a Universal Media
360 North Circular Road, Phibsborough, Dublin 7
talk@unimedia.ie