The SaaS (Software as a Service) revolution and water utilities

Software as a Service has been around for a few years but it has finally come of age.  Over the past two years SaaS has made the leap from difficult to use, expensive applications, which made it hard for many agencies to implement, to being affordable and easy to use systems.  

What is SaaS?  A software distribution model in which a third-party provider hosts applications and makes them available to customers over the Internet.

A few key changes in the industry made this possible!  Besides the continued stability of “the cloud”, the main change in SaaS has been the continued evolution of open source software.

Open-source software (OSS) is computer software with its source code made available with a license in which the copyright holder provides the rights to study, change, and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose.

Open source has allowed companies to focus on developing low cost, or free, software solutions that are easy to use.  In the bigger picture, with SaaS, companies are able to focus on the “service” aspect of solutions instead of spending a majority of their time and effort developing and maintaining software.   

What does this mean for Rural Water Utilities?  Many utilities are facing increased challenges and requirements of operating with limited, or no funding.  This makes your difficult job even harder.  Technology has the ability to make this easier and more efficient, especially for smaller to mid-sized utilities.  In order to operate Utilities more efficiently you need basic, easy-to-use Asset Management, Work Order Systems and digital mapping.  This becomes especially important prior to, and after natural disasters.

Up until now Utility Districts had to pay for a variety of expensive and difficult to use systems that often were sold separately.  These systems ranged in price from $5,000 to $25,000 + and were:

  1. Mapping Visualization Systems:  Such systems are very good but could cost tens of thousands of dollars and are often difficult to use.  Some were affordable and easy but did not provide the services Utilities need day in day out.  In addition, most of these systems offered limited licenses.
  2. Work Order Systems:  Again costly and difficult to use with limited licenses and designed for larger more complex Utilities with many more functions than necessary.
  3. Asset Management System:  Very expensive and difficult to use.  Again these systems were designed for larger utilities and municipalities.  
  4. Field Data Collection:  Utilities all have different needs from high precision GPS collection to beginning mapping a system from:
  1. a) Paper Maps
  2. b) Mapping the system for the first time from institutional knowledge prior to their retirement.  
  3. c) Correcting & updating out of date maps.

Cleerio’s SaaS has combined all of the above services in one package and for a price much lower than any single solution listed above.  This SaaS Geo-Asset Management creates just the level of service required by your utility and best of all it is easy to use.  

In future articles we will cover how to use these new SaaS applications to map your system, link to GPS, create a digitally networked system, and user testimonials.