David Fortune leads product strategy for water management software systems at Innovyze, including real-time operations, asset management, and hydraulic modelling. Over the last thirty years, he has specialized in digital twin: virtual models of water, wastewater and stormwater networks through design, construction, maintenance, planning, and operations.
Today David is discussing the past, present and future of digital transformation technologies and how they apply to the water industry.
Q. What’s your background in digital transformation?
A. I trained as a mathematician at college and, on leaving, went straight into developing engineering software. All my work has been to bring together data and models to generate information and make decisions. That’s what digital twins are all about and that’s the drive behind the digital revolution in water utility management.
Q. Why does the water industry need digital transformation?
A. All industries need transformation. Industries that don’t change gradually fade away. In the water industry we are struggling with some of the pre-digital ways of working. When we design drainage, we don’t retain those designs as the starting point for life-long asset management. Our inspection and maintenance programs for below-ground infrastructure don’t target the assets that most need maintenance.
In water we should always be striving for better: improved service levels, reduced negative impact on the environment, and reduced cost to the consumer.
Q. What digital concepts have stirred up the water industry over the last five years?
A. There’s a new determination to collect and manage the data we need to manage water better. We are introducing smart metering. Solid-state meters perform well now. The price of data communications has come down while the speed and reliability has gone up. So, we do have more, higher-quality data than ever before.
Q. The next five years - Any thoughts on what’s coming?
A. To my mind, the biggest change coming in digital transformation is the digital twin. We have the technology now, and the water industry has been building up increased use of digital twins, slowly but surely. Digital twins will be everywhere in water management in the next five years.
Q. In regard to digital twin technology what will we be talking about?
A. A digital twin is a virtual representation of the real world.
Some of the components are:
- The data from the real world
- The model of the real world
- The representation of the real-world created by the model
- The control of the real world that we generate from the digital twin
- The changes and benefits that the digital twin brings to planning and operations
- A digital twin brings together all different types of data, like telemetry, SCADA, and more.
Q. What advice would you give someone starting out in digital transformation?
A. Don’t try and do it all at once – have a long-term strategy but focus on one or two benefits now.
- Take the first steps now – don’t wait until you know everything – you never will.
- Communicate and collaborate – successful digital transformation is a team effort.
Digital transformations have been making a universal impact in all industries and for the most part, helping them to grow and thrive far beyond where they would be without these technologies. This is no different in the water industry and as David states, “industries that don’t change gradually fade away.”
Currently the water industry is struggling with older infrastructure and incompetent asset management that is no longer able to acclimate with the modern environment. There is without a doubt a need for newer design models, reliable asset planning and software that will adapt and keep up with the modern climate and environment.
Globally, water is our most precious and valuable resource, we cannot support life without it. If these digital technologies can preserve our water resources and continue to drive the water industry forward, sustainably, then there is no question, the water industry will need to adapt and embrace these digital transformations, in order to create a viable future.
To learn how you can drive innovation with leading software and digital transformations visit: Innovyze
To hear more discussion on digital transformation with David Fortune listen to our latest podcast: Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems: A Fresh Approach