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Online Data Platform for FOG Enables Data-Driven Program Management

When your wastewater jurisdiction has a FOG abatement program and needs all your information together in one place, accessible anywhere, anytime, and you are working with multiple municipalities, inspectors, pumpers, and food service establishments (FSEs); you want an online platform that supports your program, reduce costs, and makes it efficient and easy to use.  We took a look at three widely used online data management platforms for FOG programs and made an easy-to-view matrix of their key features to see what they offer and why you would want to use a platform like these.   

 Let’s start by looking at the needs of a FOG program. We want a data-driven, not effort driven program.  That means we want to look at all our hands-on interactions and reduce those through use of an online platform while focusing more on FOG management that leads to reducing FOG instead of personnel and activities management. We want to be able to access our information from any smart device, anywhere, anytime.  We want pumpers to file reports online, with the ability to send those reports, in real time, to the municipalities and FSE’s, after they have serviced an FSE.  We want to see what locations need pump-outs or inspections so we can allocate resources effectively to be efficient with our budget and available resources.  We want to make sure we have all our regulatory documents available for easy access and enforcement if necessary.  We need to make sure all our reports are available to us for reference.  We want to make sure we know which FSEs are maintaining compliance and which ones are not. We want to be able to communicate and hold strong relationships among all our stakeholders like municipalities, pumpers, and FSEs. We need to work seamlessly with multiple parties in multiple locations at the same time in order to achieve our goals. 

 For a situation like we described above, an online platform that allows you to gather and maintain all this information in one place, gives you data analytics on any data entered into the platform, and allows you to access this information anytime, anywhere and among multiple parties. It is the way to go. No more hard copy paperwork and no more entering report data 3-5 times. It only is done once on a customizable form that can be sent to all necessary stakeholders at the same time. Paying $14K-$40K annually on data entry is considered by many to be outdated, inefficient, and less effective, especially for FOG programs with many FSEs. Instead, you can pay a scalable rate based on the size of the jurisdiction. It is far more affordable and way easier to handle and manage an online data system.  So, what are some key features we want to see in an online database program for FOG abatement program management? 

 We looked at FOG BMPLinko, and Swift Comply to evaluate and compare different features and usability.   If you are planning to start using an online platform or aren’t satisfied with your current one, here are some of the key features offered by these programs:  

  • Add photos to your reports and profiles 
  • Customizable forms 
  • Customizable membership access based on type of stakeholder
    • Municipality
    • FSE 
    • Waste Hauler/Pumper 
  • Reporting analytics 
  • Cloud data access 
  • In-field reporting 
  • Custom notifications 
  • Unlimited user capacity 
  • User friendly for any party regardless of technical knowledge 
  • Training resources 
  • Smart device accessibility for both phone and tablet 
  • Save compliance and regulatory documents for easy reference 
  • 24/7 support 
  • Training certifications

There are many FOG program essentials not featured in this article but all of the companies have demos and personnel that are willing and able to work with your team on the basics, plus go into depth with program training so you get the maximum benefit from their platforms.  Here is an easy-to-see matrix of some of the key features so you can compare all three at a glance and see who you might like to try out.

FOG BMP and Linko provide the data in excel format for you to configure in your own custom reports. This is in response to customers requesting customized reports. The raw data is made available for the jurisdiction to easily customize on their own.  These are not the only online programs available but will get you started with your evaluation to determine what will fulfill your FOG program management needs. 

If it saves you time and money, if it brings you from an effort-driven program to a data-driven program, if it allows you easier functionality for your staff and other stakeholders, makes you more efficient and, of course, saves you money; then the choice ought to be easy. Clearly these companies have saved multiple jurisdictions across the globe time and money and they are more than happy to highlight those case studies if you reach out to them. In this day and age and especially with unforeseen circumstances like the COVID-19 Pandemic, jurisdictions need to seriously consider a better way to manage their FOG programs that give them clear analytics showing what they need to know and how to be proactive and not reactive.  We hope this article has been beneficial and please reach out to WSA and PPRC for further resources, training, and industry updates. 

 By: Mikey Strauhal 

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