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Combining expert knowledge and local data for improved service life modeling of water supply networks

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Scholten Lisa, Scheidegger Andreas, Reichert Peter, Maurer Max,
Project Sustainable water infrastructure planning (SWIP)
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Journal of Environmental Modelling and Software
Volume (Issue) 42
Page(s) 1 - 16
Title of proceedings Journal of Environmental Modelling and Software
DOI 10.1016/j.envsoft.2012.11.013


The presented approach aims to overcome the scarce data problem in service life modeling of water networks by combining subjective expert knowledge and local replacement data. A procedure to elicit imprecise quantile estimates of survival functions from experts, considering common cognitive biases, was developed and applied. The individual expert priors of the parameters of the service life distribution are obtained by regression over the stated distribution quantiles and aggregated into a single prior distribution. Furthermore, a likelihood function for the commonly encountered censored and truncated pipe replacement data is formulated. The suitability of the suggested Bayesian approach based on elicitation data from eight experts and real network data is demonstrated. Robust parameter estimates could be derived in data situations where frequentist maximum likelihood estimation is unsatisfactory, and to show how the consideration of imprecision and in-between-variance of experts improves posterior inference.