A scientific article in July 2023 on Nature.com highlighted the results of a global online survey about digital transformation in the water utility realm.
The report stated urban population growth is expected to “raise water demand in cities by 80% within the next 30 years.” As that increase in demand develops, there are estimates it will result in a projected yearly deficit of consumable water affecting nearly 700-million people worldwide.
The report pointed out that digital technologies have already proven to be effective in increasing the efficiency and resilience of water utility operations.
With water deficits already evident worldwide, water leaks are particularly an issue, and detecting them is a widespread challenge for water utilities. The report showed that most efforts by water utilities to go digital have been in their water distribution efforts. The least efforts have involved wastewater operations.
While more than one study has indicated economic factors appear to motivate utilities the most when it comes to digital transformation, the adoption of new digital technologies involves a decision-making process that is much more complicated than that.
Making informed decisions involves utility staff, management boards, regulators, as well as consumers. Consumer demand ultimately plays a large part in a water utility’s business and decision-making. And the Nature.com article points out, current utility business models involve selling water – a quantity-driven source of revenue.
There is a wide variety of technologies that may be involved in digitalization of water utilities: automated controls, leak and device malfunction detection, smart meters, sensors, automated meter reading, digital portals, remote sensing using drones, data analytics, machine learning, and satellite imagery. There is broad variation in the uptake of such technologies by utilities. A May 2023 ScienceDirect.com article referred to digitalization as “a continuous process,” adding, “It is an ongoing journey.”
An August 2023 SmartWaterMagazine.com article stated that digital transformation could help water utilities better understand water supply and demand patterns. With technology, utilities can find ways to address system losses, put better strategies into place and use available water more efficiently.
The study referenced in the Nature.com article reported that many utilities are embracing technology gradually, rather than abruptly overhauling their business model. For instance, even the smallest utilities are implementing “smart meters,” which promote better communication between a water utility and its customers. In addition, the ability to remotely read smart meters can help alleviate the skilled labor shortage some utilities are facing.
In the move toward a more efficient, sustainable, resilient urban water scenario, technology is one solution, involving updated roadmaps and strategies. For instance, Innovyze products can provide asset condition management and risk planning for every utility. Using Innovyze helps utilities manage current water systems and build the infrastructure needed for the future.
If your utility is looking to technology to help you move toward a more efficient, sustainable and resilient water model, check out these Innovyze products:
- Design and audit drainage systems quickly, easily and confidently with InfoDrainage.
- Perform comprehensive, collaborative water distribution analysis and modeling with InfoWorks WS Pro.
- Get real time operational performance analytics, modeling and alert tools in the cloud using Info360 Insight.
- Obtain operational intelligence for water and wastewater treatment plants with Info360 Plant.
Contact Graitec Group today for a demo of Innovyze.