The city of Richmond on Canada's west coast would be under water at times during the year if the drainage pumps operated by the city weren't constantly pumping water into the broad Fraser River which encloses it on three sides. On the fourth side, the salt waters of Georgia Strait lap the city's shores. The city has an average elevation only one meter (three feet) above sea level.

Obviously, careful planning is essential. A leaky main or burst pipes spell trouble in a city where water can't drain downhill. Entire neighborhoods could be flooded if drainage systems are unable to meet the demands of new development or a heavy downpour. When Richmond planners sought to answer questions such as where new pumps should be located, which pumps are vulnerable to breakdown and effects of new development on drainage, they discovered that they had millions of lines of data but very little useful intelligence.

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