Virtual Reality Site Visit for Mayor Touring Upgrades at Ballycastle Waste Water Plant

28 Jun 2017

The town of Ballycastle is located on the north easterly tip of County Antrim in Northern Ireland, and lies within the Moyle district.

Ballycastle is used by many visitors to Northern Ireland as an ideal base for exploring the nearby sights and famous landmarks such as, the Giant’s Causeway, Bushmills Distillery and the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge – each located less than 10 miles away from the Town Centre.

The original Waste Water Treatment Works (WwTW) was built in the town of Ballycastle in the 1980’s with a subsequent upgrade in 1997 to include an inlet works and screening to the site. Currently the site is undergoing upgrading and refurbishment to bring the site into line with current Environmental, Health & Safety Standards and the UWWTD, Bathing Water Regulations – all as part of Northern Ireland Waters Strategic Objectives.

The current WwTW which is situated to the rear of the Causeway and Glens Borough Council offices treats an estimated loading of 11,822 PE (Population Equivalent) in the summer period and 8,032 PE during the winter months.

As part of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) standards, secondary treatment is required for populations greater than 10,000 PE, the current WwTWs could not make the requirements as set out by the NIEA and work started onsite April 2016.

RPS’ involvement with the Ballycastle site comes from the successful relationship which RPS has developed during the Professional Services Frameworks (IF010 & IF011) which expires in 2017. Earlier this year, RPS Belfast successfully tendered and was confirmed as a successful supplier for the new Northern Ireland Water Professional Services Framework (IF180), which will see RPS continuing to provide engineering consultancy services for NI Water’s capital works programme until May 2021.

The £5m upgrade to Ballycastle is due to complete next summer (2018), and during a recent visit by the Mayor and Councillor Mrs Joan Baird to see the progress, the Mayor was invited by NI Water and RPS to take a Virtual Reality Tour of the site from the comfort of the Council Chambers.

Ballycastle was one of the first pilot projects that RPS Belfast undertook as part of its Virtual Reality Innovation studies into the use of the technology in November 2016 with the model being updated in April 2017 to reflect changes onsite.

The current Ballycastle WwTW model while easy to navigate was built to retain all the Building Information Modelling associated within the project. The Mayor took full advantage of the system to navigate the site, and asked Ben Adair (RPS’ Site Supervisor and Assistant Project Manager) a multitude of questions in relation to the progress. However, while the Mayor used it to navigate, it was the NI Water Operatives and Project Managers that could see real benefits and potential due to the asset (BIM) information stored within the 3D environment.

The Mayor stated ‘that the use of the VR Headset and Model had given her a better understanding of how the completed project would look and a better appreciation of what she would be looking at while out on the actual site later that day’. After a short 30-second introduction to the system, Mrs Baird found the system very easy to use and technology that she would certainly use again.

RPS is continuing to prove, that whether it’s within an office environment or in a Council Chamber the use of VR technology can bring added value to many of our projects whilst promoting collaboration.

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