San Jose Water employee using GIS in the field

Using GIS to Improve Service for our Community

San Jose Water (SJW) has been serving the South Bay Area for over 150 years, and during that time, a lot has changed in the way of water infrastructure technology. Earlier this year, the Montevina Water Treatment Facility was reopened after receiving significant upgrades, including new ultrafiltration technology. While Montevina’s innovative upgrades have received a lot of attention, it’s not the only example of how SJW is utilizing technology to improve service for our customers.

Geographic Information System, or GIS, has been used by SJW since 2008 to manage information about our entire water service infrastructure system, including hydrants, water mains, and service lines. Using GPS (Global Positioning System), SJW field employees can collect location data about infrastructure and input it into the GIS portal, ensuring that all information is accurate and up-to-date. This past summer, we made even greater technological strides and began using the TerraGo Edge application. TerraGo Edge allows field employees to send GPS data directly from the field, greatly improving our data collection efficiency.

San Jose Water employee

Another way that using GIS and GPS improves our efficiency is that it enhances the accuracy with which we are now able to locate leaks and features like valves in our infrastructure system. Our field employees can use this technology to locate leaks and features with an accuracy of 1 centimeter, which means that less time (and resource-intensive digging) is necessary, and fewer impacts are created on our community when addressing infrastructure issues or maintenance. It’s a win-win!

Finally, using GIS allows us to communicate better with our customers about their water service. When the water system will be impacted due to maintenance or an infrastructure issue, our GIS portal creates a map of the area that will be affected. This information helps our field team complete their work, but can also help our customers know what to expect during a system impact. Because we have access to up-to-date information about where our system will be impacted, you do too!

If you’d like to stay informed about our system impacts, follow us on Twitter or view our service alerts at

Innovative technology increases efficiency, but what it really boils down to is improving service for our customers. The faster we can address leaks and maintenance work, the faster you have your water service back online. The better we can communicate with our customers, the more you can rest assured knowing the status of your water service. Our GIS and field teams work every day to improve these systems, putting technology to work for better service for our customers. We are looking forward to seeing that the next 150 years of water innovation will look like!