BlueConduit's impact in Flint

Beginning in 2016, our team began collaborating with Flint city officials, analyzing the available data to provide statistical and algorithmic support to guide decision-making and data collection.

 

We demonstrated that, by analyzing the existing data available as well as advising on how to collect and store new data, we could create a model to accurately generate estimates of homes needing service line replacement.

 

We provided home-by-home predictions indicating which homes were most likely to have lead service lines. This would eventually guide the largest and most prominent water service line infrastructure remediation project ever attempted.

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Flint used the predictive model in 2016-2017, achieving a hit rate ~80%. In 2018, the city used an outside consulting firm, which found lead service lines on 15% of excavation attempts. A court order settlement in March 2019 required the city to return to the predictive model. 

Media recognition

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  • Accurate Count: Historical records suggested that 10-20% of the city’s pipes were lead. In 2016, BlueConduit-recommended inspections at a representative set indicated ~50% had lead in the inventory. In 2019, the true percentage of Flint homes that contained lead/galvanized (after 20,000 excavations) was verified ~50%.

  • Cost Savings: At a cost of a few thousand dollars per unneeded dig, our model saved the city an estimated thousands of such unneeded visits, resulting in tens of millions of dollars avoided spending.

  • Prioritized Allocation of Funds: The predictions allowed officials to send replacement crews sooner to homes with the highest risk of having lead pipes, reducing the total number of days that residents lived with a lead-tainted water supply, and minimizing the public health consequences.

  • Data Collection Procedures: The team created a web-based data collection application to allow for easy and accurate data entry, which included the appropriate security, data validation protocols, and internal checks and balances.

Results

2020 | Abernethy Schwartz Partners LLC