5 Data Best Practices to Help Water Agencies Manage Costs
10 January 2024Data, Water/WastewaterBest Practices, Cloud, data analytics, data management, data strategy, digital transformation, Info360, Infrastructure, Innovyze, insights, local government, Maintenance, mobile technology, Performance, Technology, water modeling, water utilities
Technology and innovation play an important part in improving access to water services. There are many ways to utilize technology, from remote monitoring systems to mobile devices. Technology can enhance the quality, availability and cost of services by a water provider.
According to an Environmental Protection Agency study, the U.S. drinking water infrastructure needs $472.6 billion in investments through 2038. A 2019 study reported that up to 18 percent of each day’s treated water was lost to leaky, aging pipes – about $7.6 billion in treated water that year. In older rural communities, water distribution networks are outdated and problematic.
While building and maintaining water treatment plants and distribution networks requires significant investment, the benefits include modern, efficient treatment plants, drinking water quality, reduced energy consumption, and lower costs. Investment in modern and efficient water distribution and sanitation infrastructure is crucial for continued access to clean water and economic development.
Data monitoring can improve water management systems using sensors and data analysis. Tracking water quality and quantity enables providers to intervene when issues crop up so they can improve service. By detecting small issues before they become big problems, remote monitoring systems can help providers prevent disruptions in service, while cutting the cost of repair work.
Data Best Practices
1 – Real-time data collection
Investing in real-time data collection with newer technologies helps water service providers gather large amounts of information quickly. In order to derive benefits from this data, utilities need a solid foundation for collecting data, along with staff’s acceptance of new projects.
Mobile technologies can improve access to data by collecting and reporting information on water quality and availability. Users can also report water supply issues in real time. Smart meters, SCADA systems and automatic meter readers are examples of technologies that can provide water consumption metrics, pressure variations from zone to zone, asset performance information, and other relevant data. Technology systems that also monitor “sensor accuracy” give operators confidence in the data being collected. These solutions help make water services more efficient and cost-effective.
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2 – Data-driven decision making
Data insights can have a big impact on a water provider’s daily operations. They can:
- enable rapid decision making;
- help set priorities for resources;
- assist with infrastructure repair decisions;
- catch and resolve issues before they cause expensive service interruptions and repairs.
Faster data collection helps with decision making, so long as employees are able to interpret the data just as quickly.
3 – Improved accessibility to data
For highest value and best insights, information needs to be shared. Only when data is made accessible and converted into actionable intelligence can utilities benefit from advanced data analytics. In addition, artificial intelligence and machine learning can be used for simulations. With multiple sets of data from multiple sources, there’s the potential to integrate among operations, response teams, planning, and management, improving cost effectiveness.
4 – Focus data management on solving issues
The quality of insights into operations is directly related to data quality. The best scenario involves streamlining data access by combining sensor readings, lab results, and information on network and plant operations. It is helpful for teams to be able to securely access and share data using a web browser.
With the right technology, metrics once calculated quarterly or annually about storage, leakage, water balance, and broken pipes can be calculated on a daily or even hourly basis. Employees can identify and act on up-to-date trends in key metrics. Problems can be detected faster, and more efficient and cost-effective maintenance can be conducted.
5 – Standardize operations with a data solution
When an agency’s data collections are standardized, employees can more easily visualize and calculate network performance. Data modeling and network performance can be calculated using real time data. Broad-based access to data analysis enables any employee of the agency to plot data streams and cross reference data against various locations.
Another useful feature of a standardized solution is cloud technology. This enables users to combine sensor readings, lab results and operations data with industry-specific metrics and key performance indicators.
Whether it’s standardized operations, a focus on preventing problems, better accessibility and collection of data for decision making, or a technology like machine learning for decision making support, agencies can minimize their costs through energy conservation, exacting chemical usage in treatment and providing the highest quality water to their consumers.
Learn more about how to model, simulate, create, support, and facilitate real-time water operations with the free eBook “Ways to Improve Your Water Operations.”