Bandung, on the Indonesian island of Java, has far from optimum fresh and waste water systems. PDAM, the city’s water utility, estimates its services reach around 72% of the city’s population, and then only intermittently, with water supply being switched on and off across the city at different times during the day. PDAM’s water supply systems also face numerous challenges such as low water pressure, inconsistent water quality, and illegal connections which increase the risk of cross-contamination, reduce the quality of treated water and cause havoc to supply planning. These infrastructure issues, combined with inefficient administration systems, mean that typically less than half of the drinking water produced finds its way to paying customers. The Central Government has set an ambitious target of supplying water to 100% of the population by 2019, but with a rapidly expanding population and a growing commercial base, reaching that target is becoming more complicated.
Delivering a city’s water supply is highly complex, requiring not only infrastructure but advanced management and monitoring systems. IBM specialises in analysis and finding innovative solutions to complex problems, so when PDAM was given the opportunity to host a pro-bono IBM Corporate Service Corps (CSC) team, the water utility seized it. Australian Business Volunteers (ABV), an implementing partner of IBM’s CSC program, managed the CSC team’s placement at PDAM. The team, whose highly talented members came from Belgium, Brazil, India and the USA, spent four weeks with PDAM looking at ways to reduce illegal connections, reform administrative procedures, improve cost efficiency and optimise technologies.
As well as facilitating targeted training in data analytics, cloud computing, IT infrastructure, root cause analysis and project management, in the final week of the placement the team produced a comprehensive report based on interviews and feedback from approximately one hundred staff and PDAM customers. The report contained a number of significant recommendations with a focus on ways PDAM could address the quality, profitability and reach of its services.
ABV remained in contact with PDAM and in the months following their departure it was clear that the CSC team had had an impact. In line with the report recommendations, each of PDAM’s departments had reviewed their roles, responsibilities and systems to ensure that no replication was occurring, and coordination between sections had increased. Additionally, PDAM was using IT solutions to track water usage by supply stations and customers, and to identify issues and necessary repairs. To build on the CSC team’s work, ABV, in collaboration with PDAM, developed two assignments to be completed by skilled Australian volunteers under the Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program. John Cartwright, who has several decades experience in operational, project and business management, was placed with PDAM as a Project Management Advisor in early 2016. Taking cues from the CSC team’s report, John has focused on building the senior management’s project management skills to enable them to improve operations – in particular bill collection and internal communications and coordination.
Michael Dorahy, who undertook the second AVID assignment, is a 40-year veteran of the Australian IT sector. His assignment, which was directly related to the CSC’s team key recommendations around the improvement and use of data, focused on strengthening PDAM’s organisational capacity in data analytics. Michael spent the majority of his time driving forward a project to implement a Geographical Information System (GIS). When rolled-out, the GIS will greatly improve the ability of PDAM to produce and access reliable, easy to understand data about infrastructure, water flows and customer locations. Following on from recommendations by the CSC team around improving integration between the IT Plan and the PDAM Master Plan, Michael also helped lay out next steps to ensure that IT development projects were driven by and reflected the needs of the business rather than the IT department.
The Central Government’s goal of supplying 100% of Bandung’s population remains a long-term one, but the capacities built and recommendations provided by IBM and the Australian volunteers have played a substantial part in assisting the utility on its way. ABV will continue to maintain the partnership and provide additional volunteer assistance.
The Corporate Service Corps is an IBM program which sees groups of employees placed on pro-bono community-based assignments in emerging markets. ABV has been an implementing partner of the program since its inception in 2008. Around 500 employees participate in the program each year, making it the largest program of its type in the world.
The Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program is an Australian Government initiative. Both assignments described above were developed by Australian Business Volunteers who are working in consortium with Australian Volunteers International, a delivery partner for the AVID program.