Groundwater Modeling as an Example of Modeling As A Product (MAAP) - Advantages and Limitations


On a conversation with a colleague we have discussed the potential of selling groundwater modeling through the Internet. The idea (that is not so new) to develop groundwater models from remote areas optimizing the human resources, logistics and time involved on the evaluations its kind of the next step in numerical modeling but it has some arguments to be discussed for its implementation. From the management point of view, if we focus on mass production from and if we take into account theoretical concepts of business administration the idea of outsourcing tasks can be ideal for the success of a company or industry; however from the hydrogeological point of view there are serious complexities on the groundwater flow regime analysis, limitations on the input data and skills deficiencies that put the hydrogeological evaluation in risk if we work a groundwater model online.

In a global world we can make video call to almost anywhere for a reasonable price and our need/disponibility of broadband is always increasing but our ideas are not well conected and the group ideas are more distant than religion beliefs, therefore the method of developing a groundwater model could be of great importance in the quality of the groundwater evaluation through numerical modeling. This article discuss some key aspects of developing a groundwater model as a product (MAAP) and review its advantages and limitations.


What is the difference between a service and a product

Traditionally groundwater modeling is conceptualized as a service where the owner of a project hires a consultant and he develops a hydrogeological evaluation and then a numerical model. The objectives of the evaluation are on the project proposal and the service end up on a report.

A product is physical and tangible, it complies some specifications, it is bought and can be returned if the customer is not satisfied with it. A service is a work done with another professional hired according to a contract. Decision to hire a service is based on trust and the quality of the service depend on the customer satisfaction (a feeling), since the service is something that can only be felt, it can't be returned.


Why modeling has to be a product?

If the working group related to a groundwater model elaboration is less than 5 employees there will be no problem to be seen as service, however the amount of professionals related to a numerical evaluation is much higher. Field personal, modelers, gis specialist, reviewers, regulatory officials, stakeholders, ngos, and so on can be related to a model, and then, the model has to be conceptualized as a product, otherwise the level of usage will be highly limited due to the incompatibilities of the evaluation with skills/functions of the related group.

If we work on groundwater modeling as a product our numerical construction will have more control on the methods used for the hydrogeological conceptualization, the selection of boundary conditions and quantity of data for the model calibration. Numerical models would be seen as a tool and something that can be updated and discussed on different levels, improving the dialogue and the elaboration of sustainable groundwater management guidelines


Advantages and limitation of Groundwater Modeling as a MAAP

Groundwater modeling as a MAAP has several advantages like:

  • Higher level of analysis by a more skilled personal: There is the possibility to hire more trained personal to assess particular requirements on the evaluation
  • Cost optimization with less logistics and travel expenses: Virtualization of these highly skilled task decrease the travel and accommodation costs and the hours spend on airports. 

Limitations of the MAAP in groundwater modeling are:

  • Few control on the modeling input: Since the modeler might not have been on the field, he has to assume that all field data is true, and error on the input data will affect the calibration and result analysis.
  • Failures on data transmission: Virtual communication in between professionals can increase the risk to omit data for model construction or to a wrong interpretation of model results.

Saul Montoya

Saul Montoya es Ingeniero Civil graduado de la Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú en Lima con estudios de postgrado en Manejo e Ingeniería de Recursos Hídricos (Programa WAREM) de la Universidad de Stuttgart con mención en Ingeniería de Aguas Subterráneas y Hidroinformática.

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