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Klir vs. SwiftComply: Choosing an Effective Compliance Tracking Tool

Whether it’s cross connection control, industrial pretreatment, or sampling, tracking regulatory compliance across the different programs and departments at a water and wastewater utility can be a massive undertaking.

Operators need access to a variety of data points to budget, plan for, and manage these challenges effectively, and many have turned to dedicated compliance tracking software to fill the gap.

While these tools are a step up from spreadsheets and post-it notes of the past, they aren’t perfect. Operators looking for a single tool to manage all aspects of compliance might find some of them outdated or limited in functionality.

Today we’re going to explore these tradeoffs by comparing two separate compliance tracking solutions:

Klir

An all-in-one cloud-based operating system for water & wastewater utilities—and more. Klir’s inspection tools help utilities run more effective backflow, FOG and industrial pretreatment programs while cutting down on administration and record-keeping work.

SwiftComply

A compliance management tool offering backflow prevention, FOG management, and industrial pretreatment solutions.

Klir: A Quick Intro

Launched in 2018, Klir is an all-in-one operating system for water & wastewater that brings your entire team onto one platform, pulling in data from lab reports, LIMS, SCADA & GIS to create a single source of truth for compliance utility-wide. This allows operators to:

Work With Trends

See trends across the entire water system—from sampling, to permitting, inspections & more—and make decisions with clarity and confidence.

Use Automation

Automate manual tasks and data analysis that were once tracked in Excel or Outlook, from scheduling sampling runs, to interpreting sampling results, and generating regulatory reports, eliminating 1+ days of admin work each week.

Receive Alerts

Have peace of mind knowing that Klir’s automatic alerts for MCLs and non-compliance will trigger in case anything ever goes wrong, and feel confident that every sample has been completed on time.

SwiftComply: A Quick Intro

Launched in 2016, SwiftComply began as a tool to help utilities manage FOG programs. In 2019, the company acquired XC2, a specialized backflow program management software vendor, which it began to replace with a newer updated tool called SwiftComply Backflow.

Today SwiftComply offers modules for FOG, backflow, and industrial pretreatment, stormwater, and customer management, building on its strengths in FOG and pretreatment and offering users powerful features like real-time compliance data monitoring.

Klir vs. SwiftComply: Which One Is Right for You?

SwiftComply and Klir have a lot of overlap, but there are four big differences between them that are worth keeping in mind when considering whether they’re the right fit for your operation: scope, collaboration, pricing, and data ownership.

1. One Tool For Everything

SwiftComply might work well if you already use it to manage your cross connection control data, and it might also work if you’re a solo operator looking for a tool dedicated to managing your backflow program alone.

But if you’re looking for a truly all-encompassing tool that plugs into the rest of your operation—including sampling, customer management, resource recovery and more—you might consider using a tool like Klir instead.

Klir’s commitment to building one unified platform for water utility management means it avoids the pitfalls commonly associated with legacy software suites—including duplicate data, overlapping processes, multiple licenses, uneven product development, and lack of cross-app integration—while ensuring that your team can be trained and brought onto a single, unified system.

2. Pricing Tailored For Growth

Another major difference between SwiftComply and Klir is pricing: the former follows a usage-based pricing model, whereas Klir offers personalized pricing based on a utility’s needs.

To most operators new to water data management software, a tool like SwiftComply can seem as good as “free.” There are no flat licensing costs, and if a utility does not upload any data to Swiftcomply, they don’t pay anything. 

But while the financial barrier to entry might be low, usage based pricing can also work against you, discouraging use of the tool in general. 

Going with a predictable, tailored fee like Klir’s means that you can keep a rapidly growing population’s drinking water safe without the surprise of a massive bill.

Klir focuses on enabling the utility to grow with its city, rather than penalizing it. If you’re keen on software that is as easy to use as it is to budget for, consider Klir.

3. Collaboration

SwiftComply provides users real-time data to monitor compliance. But like other legacy systems, it doesn’t include internal collaboration or communications tools, forcing teams to come up with their own off-platform solutions (usually email).

If you’re looking for a tool that does more than just monitoring, especially project management and other automation-enabled collaboration tasks, you should consider Klir instead.

Klir merges multiple data sources and processes into a single collaborative platform and paves the way for a more proactive, collaborative, and resilient water management program. Directors can independently access every aspect of the water management data—including compliance and sampling–with an easy-to-use executive dash dashboard, freeing-up the time of their subordinates and empowering them to get the data they need in an instant. 

Klir allows teams to manage all of their tasks within the app, offering an internal chat and reply functionality, user tagging, and commenting, turning the platform into a single channel for collaboration and project management across the organization.

4. Privacy and Data Ownership

As utilities move more of their data from physical logbooks, spreadsheets and calendars into the digital sphere, who exactly has access to—or even outright owns—that data can become murkier.

One big concern for utilities who work with private inspectors and contractors on functions like  backflow is ownership over inspection data. With SwiftComply, third-party inspectors own the data that they enter into the system. With Klir, the utility has full ownership of inspector data.

Conclusion

Despite SwiftComply’s strengths in cross connection and FOG program management, Klir’s all-encompassing, user-friendly approach to data management makes it the clear winner for utilities looking to manage all of their programs out of one system.

  1. Klir’s focus on creating a single source of truth for all of your utility’s programs—from sampling and compliance to industrial pretreatment—provides program managers with the data and confidence they need to make important operational decisions.
  2. Klir’s straightforward pricing structure makes it easier to budget and doesn’t penalize users for increased usage.
  3. Klir’s focus on project management and in-app communication also makes it the clear choice for utilities and programs looking for a single tool to encompass all aspects of program management.

Operations And Compliance Management For Everyone

Looking for a simple, straightforward compliance tracking tool that you can use straight out of the box? Learn more about how Klir can cut down on administration and recordkeeping work, create new opportunities for collaboration, and provide a level of system-wide visibility unmatched by other water data management systems.

Klir vs. SAMS by NJBSoft: Picking An Operations and Compliance Management Suite That Works For You

For utilities managing multiple programs like drinking and wastewater, cross connection control, and industrial pretreatment, bringing operational and compliance data from across the organization into one environment can be a big undertaking.

Over the years, numerous engineering, IT consulting, and software companies have developed tools to help utilities manage this process. But while they might be a step up from paper and spreadsheet-based data management, not all operational and compliance management software is created equal.

Today we’re going to explore some of these differences by comparing two platforms:

Klir

An all-in-one cloud-based operating system for water & wastewater utilities. Klir pulls compliance, sampling, reporting and more into an easy to use dashboard, cutting down on administration and record-keeping work while providing a level of organization-wide visibility unmatched by other systems. 

SAMS

An operations and compliance management suite from NJBSoft built for managing water, wastewater, industrial pretreatment, backflow, stormwater, air quality and asset management programs.

Klir: A Quick Intro

Until recently, the information that operators and managers at water utilities needed to do their jobs was fragmented, dispersed across numerous systems, incomplete, or otherwise difficult to access. 

Launched in 2018, Klir is the first system to bring these disparate functions together into one complete, all-in-one operating system (OS) for water & wastewater utilities.

Instead of relying on a mishmash of different systems and software, Klir brings the entire team onto one platform and pulls in data from lab reports, LIMS, SCADA & GIS to create a single source of truth for sampling activities utility-wide. 

This allows operators to:

Work With Trends

See trends across the entire water system—from sampling, to permitting, inspections & more—and make decisions with clarity and confidence.

Use Automation

Automate manual tasks and data analysis that were once tracked in Excel or Outlook, from scheduling sampling runs, to interpreting sampling results, and generating regulatory reports, eliminating 1+ days of admin work each week.

Receive Alerts

Have peace of mind knowing that Klir’s automatic alerts for MCLs and non-compliance will trigger in case anything ever goes wrong, and feel confident that every sample has been completed on time.

SAMS: A Quick Intro

Launched in 2009, NJBSoft’s Sampling and Monitoring System (SAMS) began as an integrated operations and compliance solution for the Civil, Environmental and Municipal Engineering sector. 

Today, the company offers seven separate ‘SAMS’ covering different aspects of water utility data management, including:

  • Compliance and permit management for drinking and wastewater utilities (SAMS Water and SAMS Wastewater)
  • Suites for managing industrial pretreatment (SAMS IPP), cross connection control (SAMS Cross Connection) and stormwater (SAMS Stormwater) programs
  • A tool for managing Clean Air Act and other air quality compliance (SAMS Air Quality)
  • A new asset management module (SAMS Asset Management)

Klir vs. SAMS: Which One Is Right for You?

While SAMS and Klir might have a lot of overlap, there are three major differences that set the two platforms apart: degree of customizability vs. configurability, how each platform handles data visualization, and collaboration tools. Here’s what each of them means for your utility:

1. Customizability vs. Configurability

Generally speaking, users get the most out of NJBSoft’s SAMS by customizing and changing the tool to fit their specific situation. 

Organizations that have substaintantial IT and computer engineering resources have the ability to make code-level changes to SAMS, which can result in a tool that is closely tailored to a specific utility or department’s data management needs and situation.

Klir’s “click not code” approach to configurability, on the other hand, means that any user can automate processes and manage tasks without the steep learning curve. 

While customizable software might offer users a more tailored approach, it’s also more expensive, both from a financial and human resources perspective. 

When budgets get tight, the last thing your department needs is to sink thousands of dollars into hiring engineers to customize software you’ve already paid for. Meanwhile, configurable software is cheaper to adapt to your specific needs, and cheaper to maintain.

2. Data Visualization

We can make a similar comparison between the two platforms when it comes to another important function: pulling and synthesizing large amounts of operational and compliance data into easy-to-understand dashboards and reports.

While both platforms offer data visualization, the SAMS platform requires complex, time-consuming queries to pull operational data into dashboards.

Klir’s single-click reporting and dashboard capabilities, on the other hand, are focused on saving time and being as user-friendly as possible. There’s no need for an experienced ‘power user’ to immediately start getting value out of Klir. Powerful out-of-the-box dashboards make data more digestible for everyone, whether you’re a seasoned Klir user or using the platform for the first time.

Pulling data into reports is a similarly painless process. With a single click, operators can generate compliance reports that are instantly ready for submission to state and local regulators. 

Overall, Klir’s fully configurable platform offers a simple yet comprehensive solution for all users to set up their dashboards, notifications, and forms, making it easy to visualize important information such as inspection outcomes, compliance status, and sampling results at a glance.

3. Collaboration

SAMS internal collaboration and communications tools are limited, forcing teams to handle most project management work outside of the app. If you’re looking for a tool that prioritizes project management functionality and other automation-enabled collaboration tasks, you should consider Klir instead.

Klir provides a single collaborative platform that paves the way for more proactive, collaborative programs, offering an internal chat and reply functionality, user tagging, and commenting, turning the platform into a single channel for collaboration and project management across the organization.

Conclusion

While SAMS’ operations and compliance management tools might meet the needs of power users with substantial IT and engineering resources, Klir’s out-of-the-box, user-friendly approach makes it the clear favorite for the average program manager.

  1. Klir’s focus on configurability cuts down on the substantial time and effort users must invest in customizable platforms like SAMS.
  2. Klir’s intuitive, user-friendly interface and query-free dashboard interface makes it the more powerful tool out-of-the-box. Users with little to no experience using the platform can immediately start creating data visualizations and generating reports for regulators.
  3. Klir’s focus on project management and in-app communication also makes it the clear choice for utilities and programs looking for a single tool to encompass all aspects of program management.
  4. Klir is committed to providing your utility with continued personalized support throughout your entire journey, including a dedicated Klir Customer Success Manager and a comprehensive change management plan to make the transition as seamless as possible.

Operations And Compliance Management For Everyone

Interested in learning how to get configurable dashboards without a computer science degree? Learn more about how Klir can cut down on administration and recordkeeping work, create new opportunities for collaboration, and provide a level of system-wide visibility unmatched by other water data management systems.

From Graveyards to Goldmines: Leveraging the Compliance Data Challenge

Over the past 30 years, the amount of data wastewater treatment plants typically generate has increased exponentially. Systems for storing and organizing that data have struggled to keep up. 

In many cases, water utilities have come to see the sheer amount of data on file as a liability rather than an asset: something that needs to be constantly monitored, corralled, and inevitably pushed to the side.

However, as some researchers have noted, that massive pile of data overwhelming your water utility has the potential to become a goldmine. 

When data is organized and shared effectively, it becomes a powerful tool for upgrading the efficiency and performance of your wastewater treatment system, anticipating disturbances before they happen and adapting to stricter standards of compliance.

The Explosive Growth of Water Treatment Data

One study showed that a single large wastewater treatment plant, serving 800,000 to 3 million people, can generate up to 30,000 data points. These include everything from sampling data essential for reporting compliance and meeting environmental regulations, to GPS coordinates, call logs, field notes, and more.

Such a large volume of data has an impact on individual personnel. For example: a single employee at a large water utility is often responsible for overseeing more than 40,000 backflow prevention devices, each of which generates annual inspection data. The system used to organize such data has an enormous impact on that employee’s day-to-day job, affecting their ability to share information, file reports, and ensure compliance.

On its own, the overarching project of compliance—particularly tracking permits—represents an enormous task. One water utility uses Klir to manage over 3,000 permits, a task that would be daunting without Klir’s fully configurable data management systems.

As Lluís Corominas, a researcher at the Catalan Institute for Water Research, writes

Plant operators have an overwhelming stream of data at their hands, which is very difficult to process and analyze in a timely enough fashion to allow for better understanding or proper decision-making.

The earliest tremors of this explosion of data generation can be traced back to the 1970s, when one of the hottest topics at international wastewater treatment conferences was data collection from sensors.

The sensors being used were adapted from other industries and ill-fitted for use in wastewater treatment systems, but attendees were already discussing the best ways to automate the collection and management of data in their plants.

The same report lists four primary reasons why managing water treatment data (referred to as information, control, and automation [ICA]) has since become such an enormous task:

  • Effluent quality standards, which became more demanding and complex
  • Economic factors, which encouraged water utilities to develop automated, money-saving compliance management tools that generated more data than prior solutions
  • Plant complexity, one of the most important driving factors, which increased as methods of water treatment advanced
  • Improved tools, such as advanced remote sensors, which generated more data for water utilities to manage

With such a large amount of information to deal with, one of the most important tools at a water utility’s disposal is data centralization.

Aerial View WWTP

The Importance of Data Centralization

Utilities are increasingly data-rich but information-poor. As Corominas notes, a large number of utilities have become host to “data graveyards,” massive stores of data that cannot be easily navigated or accessed. 

The data graveyard is a sort of invisible weight burdening a water utility, demanding resources to be maintained, causing a constant drain on time and money, but rarely producing outright catastrophic effects. 

Individuals may be forced to enter the graveyard on a regular basis, in order to dredge up information for the sake of renewing permits, for instance, or to confirm the status of different backflow devices. But each of these is simply a slow, laborious task–one that creates drag on standard processes without ever pushing them to their breaking point.

The cumulative effect of the data graveyard may be huge, but it’s difficult to see. That’s especially the case when pieces of it are owned by different individuals and teams, or scattered across multiple disconnected databases. 

If the cumulative effect of a data graveyard is difficult to grasp, its potential for good may be even more elusive. Your water utility could have a huge amount of data on hand that might be leveraged to speed up and improve processes, anticipate problems, and plan for the future. But so long as it’s a fragmentary mess and a headache to access, its potential is impossible to realize.

The first step in converting your data graveyard to a goldmine is centralizing it. Bringing all your data together in one place, under one administrative dashboard, lets you assess its potential.

The best tool for the job is a comprehensive software as a service (SaaS) solution. Learn more about why SaaS makes sense for water. 

Once your data is centralized and easier to navigate, it’s ready to be mined.

Gold Mining for Data

To push the metaphor to the breaking point, once you’ve converted your data graveyard into a goldmine, it’s time to start mining for gold.

“Mining for gold,” in this sense, means converting raw data into information—becoming both data-rich and information-rich. The biggest opportunities for leveraging data into information fall under three categories: machine learning, improvement of remote and real-time monitoring, and increased collaboration.

The Increasing Promise of Machine Learning

Increasingly, machine learning shows potential to have a huge impact on how water utilities leverage their data to improve operations.

Machine learning is, in brief, the process of using computers to analyze large amounts of data, discover patterns, and use those patterns to make predictions, solve problems, and answer questions. 

Already, machine learning has been applied to water utility data in order to track the spread of COVID-19, reduce energy usage, and detect compliance violations.

Machine Learning and Wastewater

By testing wastewater samples, infectious disease experts are already able to predict upsurges in COVID-19 infections three to seven days before standard swab testing does the same. 

That makes wastewater a window into COVID infection rates among particular populations—provided you have the tools to examine the data accurately.

While current systems for monitoring COVID via wastewater suffer some gaps in information—partly due to reduced detectability in people who have been vaccinated—machine learning has shown promise when it comes to predicting upsurges and tracking COVID’s spread.

What’s more, similar techniques can be used to track other viruses, such as norovirus and polio. You can learn more from our article on wastewater-based epidemiology.

Improving Remote and Real-Time Monitoring Capabilities with Water Data

COVID-19 lockdowns around the world fast-forwarded a general trend, across many industries, towards remote-first work policies. The lockdowns also drove home just how important it is for organizations to be able to access and manage their data remotely.

In this sense, water utilities were ahead of the curve: Many utilities already remotely manage thousands of infrastructure assets using sensors, controllers, and transmitters.

That remote capability is wasted, however, if data is fragmentary—stored natively on a variety of different media (harddrives, thumb drives, backup devices, etc.), accessible only by particular teams or individuals. 

Even utilities who stored data in a centralized fashion on their own local servers faced problems when moving to remote working arrangements, as personnel encountered technical barriers to accessing the organization’s intranet from offsite computers.

A cloud-based SaaS (i.e., Software as a service) is the best solution for utilities that want to make their data available to all relevant personnel, regardless of their locations, at all times. 

With the help of such a system, a water utility can:

  • Cut down on work-related travel and site visits
  • Put in place more accurate and effective alert and notification systems
  • Shorten response times when issues arise
  • Scale new operations quickly across the organization
  • Respond nimbly to staffing shortages or future lockdown situations

Get More Value out of Your Wastewater Compliance Program

Curious about how technology can help your utility tackle NPDES and other wastewater-related compliance challenges for good? Download the guide and book a demo of Klir today.

How Water Utilities Can Use Machine Learning to Reduce Their Electric Bill

In Singapore, the Ulu Pandan Water Reclamation Plant used machine learning to analyze its operational data, and were able to reduce aeration energy usage by 15%.

Instead of using reactive control mechanisms, which adjust wastewater treatment processes in reaction to changing nutrient levels, flow rates, etc., the machine learning algorithm in use at Ulu Pandan creates predictive models, making fine adjustments to the system earlier than it would otherwise.

Effectively, the automated systems at the treatment plant spend less energy playing catch-up with changing conditions—opting, instead, to literally “go with the flow.”

Detecting Violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) With Machine Learning

In theory, some water treatment facilities are more likely to violate the CWA than others—there’s just no way to know which ones. Unless you apply machine learning to the task, that is.

In 2018, researchers from Stanford demonstrated that machine learning could be used to predict the likelihood of particular water treatment facilities violating the CWA. In theory, with that information, inspectors could be sent to the facilities most likely to be in violation of the CWA, rather than to facilities with a very low likelihood of being found non-compliant.

As their paper in Nature Sustainability demonstrates, using such a system can double the number of violators caught, while allocating inspection resources more effectively. 

There’s also an element of deterrence at work: the researchers theorize that, if water treatment facilities know their data is being monitored and that a machine learning algorithm will be able to anticipate any future violations, they will be more diligent, working harder to ensure violations never occur at all.

Improving Collaboration with Centralized Water Data 

Machine learning and the rise of the distributed workforce are both exciting aspects of water utility data management. In fact, they could have a major impact on the future of how water utilities operate. 

But organizing and centralizing data has the most immediate impact upon a water utility’s most valuable resource: its people.

When data is accessible to all personnel, across all teams, collaboration becomes more fluid, easy, and intuitive. It’s easier for engineers, compliance professionals, operations management, and other stakeholders to take advantage of the utility’s vast store of data, and use it to everyone’s benefit.

Ready to Turn Your Compliance Data Into an Asset?

Klir’s compliance tracking tools help utilities get more out of their data while cutting down on administration and record-keeping work, create new opportunities for collaboration, and provide a level of system-wide visibility unmatched by other water data management systems. Learn more and book a demo today.

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