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Development of Decision Support Tools for Urban Water Supply Management in Uganda
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Land and Water Resources Engineering.
2008 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other scientific)
Abstract [en]

In this study, five real-life problem situations were used to explore the challenges of developing and implementing decision support tools for management of an urban water utility in Uganda. The study sought to explore how the degree of adoption of formal decision support tools in practice, generally perceived to be low, could be improved. In the study, an Action Research (AR) approach was used. AR is an inquiry process that involves partnership between researchers and practitioners for the purpose of addressing a real-life problem issue, while simultaneously gener-ating scientific knowledge. Unlike other research methods where the researcher seeks to study organizational phenomena but not to change them, the action researcher attempts to create or-ganizational change and simultaneously to study the process. It is recognized that AR methods provide a potential avenue to improve the practical relevance of Information Systems (IS) re-search.

The five cases that were considered in the study involved participatory problem structuring to address water distribution bottlenecks; identification of Non-Revenue Water (NRW) reduction strategies; facilitation of decentralized management of customer accounts; monitoring and con-trol of procurements and expenditure; and geospatial investigation of declining water sales. Dur-ing the study, participation in problem identification was achieved through discussions and brain-storming sessions bringing together top and middle managers within the organization. A number of prototype decision support tools were developed and implemented. Maps and other geovisu-alization tools were also used to inform and enhance the processes of collective problem identifi-cation and structuring.

Results of the study emphasized the need for proper problem structuring prior to the formula-tion of actions; the challenge of moving from planning to action; the importance of user in-volvement in the development of tools; and the need to manage IS implementation as part of a holistic, organization-wide change process. The challenges of embedding formal decision support within existing work systems in organizations were highlighted, and recommendations were made on how best to achieve this. The AR approach was found to be useful in bridging the gap be-tween academic research and technological practice, thus supporting the development of IS with immediate and practical benefits to organizations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH , 2008. , x, 36 p.
Series
Trita-LWR. LIC, ISSN 1650-8629 ; 2041
Keyword [en]
Decision support systems, Participatory decision-making, Geovisualization, Non-revenue water, Geostatistics, Action research
National Category
Water Engineering
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-4803ISBN: 978-91-7415-018-6 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-4803DiVA: diva2:14054
Presentation
2008-06-13, V3, KTH, Teknikringen 72, Stockholm, 13:15
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
QC 20101115Available from: 2008-06-04 Created: 2008-06-04 Last updated: 2010-11-15Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Bridging the gap between academic research and technological practice: Roles, benefits and pitfalls of action research in information systems development
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Bridging the gap between academic research and technological practice: Roles, benefits and pitfalls of action research in information systems development
(English)Manuscript (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This paper highlights the shortfalls of traditional approaches to academic research in the technological sciences, with respect to their failure to effectively impact on practice and tosupport joint learning between academicians and practitioners. Action Research (AR) is proposedas a suitable way of bridging this gap. AR is an inquiry process that involves partnership between researchers and practitioners for the purpose of addressing a real life problem issue, while simultaneously generating scientific knowledge. It is recognized that AR methods provide apotential avenue to improve the practical relevance of Information Systems (IS) research. An ARapproach has been used in an ongoing study involving the development of Decision SupportSystems (DSS) for water supply management in Uganda. The study seeks to explore how thedegree of adoption of DSS in practice, generally perceived to be low, may be improved.However, AR is not without its challenges, many of which are both contextual and emergent innature, and these are highlighted in the paper. The case study thus provides an opportunity, notonly to carry out research specific to the particular field of study (IS development), but also to reflect on the roles, benefits and pitfalls of AR as a research approach.

Keyword
Action Research, Joint learning, Collaborative research, Decision Support Systems
National Category
Water Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-8668 (URN)
Note
QC 20100723Available from: 2008-06-04 Created: 2008-06-04 Last updated: 2010-07-23Bibliographically approved
2. Development of decision support tools for decentralised urban water supply management in Uganda: An action research approach
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Development of decision support tools for decentralised urban water supply management in Uganda: An action research approach
2009 (English)In: Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, ISSN 0198-9715, E-ISSN 1873-7587, Vol. 33, no 2, 122-137 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper presents a study in which four real-life problem situations are used to explore the challenges of developing and implementing decision support tools within air urban water utility. In the Study, all Action Research approach is used. with theoretical considerations leading to specific actions being implemented, which ill turn yield results that are used to reflect upon the original theoretical assumptions. Results of the study emphasize the need for proper problem-structuring prior to the formulation of actions, the challenges of moving from planning to action; the importance of User involvement in the development of tools; and how a good match of people, problem-structuring, proactiveness and participatory tools development is required for effective decision support provision. The study also highlights the challenges of embedding decision support within existing work systems ill organizations. The Action Research approach is shown to be useful in bridging the gap between theory and practice, aiding the development of decision Support tools of immediate and practical benefit to organizations.

Keyword
Decision support systems, Information systems, Work systems, Action Research
National Category
Water Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-8669 (URN)10.1016/j.compenvurbsys.2009.01.001 (DOI)000264736500006 ()2-s2.0-61349151111 (Scopus ID)
Note
QC 20100723Available from: 2008-06-04 Created: 2008-06-04 Last updated: 2017-12-14Bibliographically approved
3. Using geovisualisation to support participatory problem structuring and decision making for an urban water utility in Uganda
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Using geovisualisation to support participatory problem structuring and decision making for an urban water utility in Uganda
2008 (English)In: Applied GIS, ISSN 1832-5505, Vol. 4, no 2, 1-33 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper describes the application of geovisualisation to facilitate participatory identification and structuring of problems in an urban water supply system in Uganda. The city of Kampala has experienced rapid expansion over the years, with a corresponding increase inthe demand for piped water supply. However, this demand was not well matched with expansion of the water supply system, and as a result parts of the city have been facingchronic supply anomalies and insufficiencies. Faced with the task of identifying remedies to theproblems in the system, the city water company undertook a formal participatory problemstructuring and decision analysis process, to try and understand the underlying causes of system failures as well as the geospatial patterns of these failures. As part of this process,analysis, mapping and geovisualisation of data derived from historical records of waterconsumption, as well as records of pipe breakages, supply intermittences, and other recordedcustomer complaints, was done. The maps so produced were key in bringing the variousstakeholders and decision makers to a common understanding of the problem issues, andhelped in the formulation of alternative courses of action. Furthermore, with the establishment of a formal discussion forum for problem analysis and decision making, structured participatory decision making was entrenched within the company’s work ethos. It is hoped that in future,the coupling of the geovisualisation tools with the existing operational databases in thecompany will result in the development of a functional spatial decision support system and adynamic framework for system performance monitoring and reliability assessment.

Keyword
Decision support, Geovisualisation, Participatory problem structuring.
National Category
Water Engineering Geophysical Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-8670 (URN)2-s2.0-61349097498 (Scopus ID)
Note
QC 20100723Available from: 2008-06-04 Created: 2008-06-04 Last updated: 2012-02-13Bibliographically approved
4. Exploring “commercial” water losses in an urban water supply system in Uganda: A geostatistical modeling approach
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Exploring “commercial” water losses in an urban water supply system in Uganda: A geostatistical modeling approach
2008 (English)In: Applied Spatial Analysis and Policy, ISSN 1874-463XArticle in journal (Other academic) Submitted
Abstract [en]

Like many urban water utilities, Kampala Water (KW) in Uganda has faced challenges in dealing with Non-Revenue Water, defined as the difference between water produced and water sold. One particular challenge has been in quantifying and localizing the “apparent” or “commercial” losses fraction of the water balance relating to the KW service area. This paper presents a study in which geostatistical modelling was used to investigate the possible causes of stagnation in watersales volumes within a selected part of the KW service area, despite continued growth in thecustomer base resulting from connection of new customers. In the study, a variogram model ofwater sales volumes was established. This model was then used to predict water sales volumes ona raster grid throughout the study area. The predicted volumes were compared with actual watersales for a selected period, and a difference map was generated. Subsequently, post plots of thelocations of various reported field anomalies (aged and defective meters, water supplyinsufficiencies, leaks, illegal consumption, disconnected accounts, and accounts billed onestimated consumption) were overlaid in turn on the difference map of water sales volumes.These map overlays were used to explore the spatial correlations between the prevalence of thedifferent categories of field anomalies and occurrences of large differences between actual andpredicted water sales volumes. The comparisons served to highlight the locations and possiblecauses of significant drops in water sales volumes. Through the study, a geostatistical analysis toolwas developed consisting of computer code written using R, an open-source statistical computingand graphics language and environment. This tool will be incorporated as a module within aspatial decision support system prototype being developed for the KW service area.

Keyword
Water loss analysis, Geostatistical modelling, Variogram analysis, Non-revenue water, Decision support systems
National Category
Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources Water Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-8671 (URN)
Note
QS 20120314Available from: 2008-06-04 Created: 2008-06-04 Last updated: 2012-03-14Bibliographically approved

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