IBAK's AI Way - Comments by Arno Jugel

Five key ideas for the meaningful use and benefits of AI for inspection service contractors.

In the current debate about the opportunities and risks of using AI in the sewer industry, the view is emerging that it can be used to handle the large number of inspection and rehabilitation tasks more efficiently and to counter the shortage of skilled workers. As far as the demand and the benefits are concerned, not much further convincing is therefore needed. What is being discussed is the "how".

With the great potential of this key technology in mind, more and more players are emerging to develop AI tools for the field of condition assessment. They all share the same objective of completing recurring routine tasks faster, with high quality and more productively. The consensus is about reducing the burden on human resources for monotonous work and creating capacities for the great variety of other job profiles in our industry.

However, the approaches as to what form the new cooperation between humans and technology will take and the underlying business models are quite different. But these are the decisive points when you think about the "how". My impression is that transparency is particularly important in this context.

Taking this as an opportunity, I would like to provide some clarification and describe the road to AI chosen by IBAK. IBAK ArtIST (Artificial Intelligence Software Tool) is a cloud-based extension of IBAK's sewer analysis software IKAS evolution and is available to begin with for automated condition detection in inspection films. Accordingly, in these remarks I take the perspective of addressing you as inspection service providers. Nevertheless, all other readers for whom new possibilities of cooperation with the people on the job are opening up are equally addressed. The following five key ideas give you some indication to help clarify the "how" with IBAK:

1. With IBAK ArtIST, you offer AI-based inspections yourself.

IBAK ArtIST is your tool; your instrument to optimize your work with Artificial Intelligence methods. The efficiency advantage does not come from putting your work on someone else's desk. You yourself are still doing the work of performing the optical filming and recording the condition data. Consequently, it remains your billable service. You have generated the added value for your client, you do the billing.

2. With IBAK ArtIST, your usual workflow does not change.

You do not need to purchase anything extra for the AI application. The service is available for anyone who uses the IBAK software IKAS evolution. You collect the optical inspection data by means of camera inspection. The web service ArtIST is connected to the software. You send the film to the web service with a mouse click and it returns the condition data. Of course, the specifications of the sewer data regulations and those of the client are observed and supported by the software. You can apply all functionalities of the IKAS evolution to this data.

3. With IBAK ArtIST, you work responsibly and in compliance with data protection laws.

With ArtIST you do not have to work completely on the web. The offline-capable system is fully integrated into IKAS evolution. Your master and inspection data do not leave your local network. You just send only the inspection film to the cloud. IBAK uses the film exclusively to operate and further optimize the web service (feedback loop). Thus, ArtIST becomes a cloud platform that provides an objective inspection result for all users equally.

Other web services are provided for web-based data sharing. IBAK's web services are hosted on a European data centre. The data therefore does not leave Europe and is processed under the guidelines of the GDPR.

4. With IBAK ArtIST, you stay in control.

ArtIST is not a black box. Humans and the web service complement each other: ArtIST makes suggestions, the inspector is in control. The result of the AI-based condition capture is returned to you as the user without any human post-processing.

You receive the condition data automatically detected by ArtIST fully encoded with all characterizations for any desired coding system. The decision-making processes of the AI software are designed for transparency. Regardless of the station coordinates (where the damage is), the best viewing position is automatically returned (the position from which the defect can be assessed the best). In this way, the decisions made automatically are explicable and understandable to you. And you also know exactly at which point you intervened, if necessary. This means that in your more efficient AI-based way of working, you can still ensure quality throughout, from scanning through to the finished inspection report.

5. With IBAK ArtIST, your added value goes beyond automated condition recording.

Data collection is not an end in itself. It is generated as a basis for taking far-reaching rehabilitation decisions and developing maintenance strategies. With ArtIST, for example, you receive measured values and dimensions of defects. Measured values that are needed for rehabilitation planning are generated using 3D reconstruction methodology. ArtIST also provides the necessary data basis to answer the question of what a pipe will look in 10 or 20 years' time. IBAK is participating in a research project on a prognosis model that can calculate the ageing process on the basis of sewer data. This information is to be used to optimize maintenance strategies.

Last but not least, the intelligent operating concept IBAK aiControl should be mentioned at this point. In the future, the inspection camera will move through the pipe as if controlled by an autopilot and automatically access, pan and record all events to be documented. IBAK has had  in mind these and other possible applications which be useful to you in the future for sewer inspection and rehabilitation since the beginning of AI development.

Of course, these five points do not answer all questions about AI in the sewer industry. They provide an initial orientation as to what your path can look like with this key technology: Because the "how" with IBAK puts you in a position to use the potential of AI for yourself.

I cordially invite you to try out ArtIST and look forward to further discussions

Arno Jugel Sales Manager Software and Information Systems

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