3 Steps to a Digital Transformation for Water Utilities

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October 23, 2020

Water utilities everywhere in the world are facing challenges that didn't exist a couple of decades ago. From growing urban populations and climate change to aging infrastructure, regulatory pressure and budgetary constraints, utilities now have to deal with issues that require innovation and resettlement of the status quo.

With these challenges at hand, water utilities’ digital transformation becomes a natural progression towards adopting solutions that drive peak operating efficiency, make use of existing IT investments, and ultimately improve levels of service to the community. The good news is that most water utilities have the infrastructure in place to leverage artificial intelligence, machine learning, digital twin technology, big data analytics, and IoT.

Many water utilities are already in some stage of digital transformation by integrating their existing toolsets including GIS, simulation models, asset databases, SCADA, and work management systems. Recent statistics suggest that investment in water utility digital transformation is expected to grow 6.5% annually in the US and Canada.

A digital transformation can help water utilities to become more energy-efficient, less labor-intensive, more compliant with regulatory directives, and allows for streamlined communications among departments. Every water utility striving to achieve digital transformation should consider these three areas:

1. The Collection of Data

Digitization of water and wastewater operations stands on a robust data collection regimen. Therefore, the first step to digital transformation in water utilities is collecting accurate asset data as well as real-time data from the water and wastewater networks. Traditionally, data collection at water sites is done by inspections and in site sensors. For a digital transformation to become reality, this methodology needs to be updated and/or reinforced using remote sensors (telemetry systems) and IoT devices that provide continuous data streams.

2. Modeling their Water and Wastewater Systems

The next step in the digital transformation of water utilities is developing holistic hydraulic models of the associated systems. The concept of infrastructure digital twins has emerged as the most effective way to virtually recreate a water system with the best accuracy available. Water utilities can use AI-powered software solutions that create the water system’s digital replicas using real-time sensor updates, past performance, usage data, weather feeds, and predictive technology.

Accurate water models, a big step forward in any utilities digital twin, helps to identify problems and develop solutions in a more streamlined and cost-effective manner.

3. The Practical Utilization of Collected Data and Models

This is the last and most crucial step in the digital transformation of water utility companies. The entire purpose of having access to live data streams, system analytics, and simulation models comes down to how your utility applies the insights these solutions offer. These tools should help you improve operational efficiency, streamline asset management, ensure higher service levels, and minimize regulatory risks. The frequent and widespread use as well as the fulfillment of these types of key performance indicators (KPIs) indicates that a water utility has undergone successful digital transformation.

Innovyze Helping Digital Transformation of Water Utilities

Innovyze has been helping water utilities all over the world in improving their operations with state-of-the-art software solutions. Our software systems can make the best use of telemetric data to create digital twins representing characteristics, strengths, and vulnerabilities of a water system in real-time. Our digital solutions use AI/MI to make predictive recommendations for achieving optimum operational efficiency in a cost-effective manner and without compromising on compliance measures.

Tags: digital transformation, smart water analytics, digital twins