Are Water Authorities Utilising Infrastructure Data Effectively?
The treatment, supply and access to clean water represents critical infrastructure that needs to continually improve and scale with population growth and society demands.
However, water and wastewater infrastructure and facilities are aging which presents massive ongoing investment requirements to maintain baseline operations. Water utility companies and infrastructure asset managers are increasingly turning to technology and digitisation to leverage more data from their existing operations to make smarter and more informed decisions. Leveraging technology enables water utility companies to remotely monitor and control infrastructure, provide faster responses to issues that disrupt supply, and can even predict maintenance requirements to avoid costly repairs and avoid downtime completely.
In Australia, the progression and demand for digital transformation in the water industry has led the Water Services Association of Australia and the IoT Alliance Australia to jointly publish the Digital Reference Framework (DRF) to help guide utilities and water authorities along their journey of technology adoption. The DRF provides a structured view of the technology stack required when planning and executing digital transformation programs of work, specifically in relation to IIoT and cloud-based platforms.
The framework also clearly defines the need for solutions to integrate data within the context of digital transformation best practice. This is where a specialised integration platform like Reekoh plays a critical role in project success.
So, what are some of the key areas within the water and wastewater industries that are being transformed through digital technology and modern data strategies?
The roll out of smart water meters is one of the most common and tangible programs of digital transformation work that has been carried out over the past several years. Metering devices at the home or business once required manual reading that was conducted by armies of employees and contractors walking the streets to physically inspect and record water meter data. However, this data was still required to be digitised at a later stage for billing purposes.
Digital water meters today are connected in a suitable way for processing automated billing. They are commonly connected over LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Network) such as LoRaWAN or NB-IoT and are tied more directly to metering systems and platforms. The addition of AI and Machine Learning to some of these platforms allows the layering of additional capabilities on top of the raw metering data, such as water leak or theft detection.
The benefits to the water authority of implementing this form of digital transformation are lower-cost, higher-fidelity and enhanced real-time data acquisition and processing. The end customer then benefits through the provision of additional services from the water authority around optimisation of water usage and potentially more innovative billing options and plans.
However, to achieve these benefits, metering data and/or the events that are generated from digitally monitoring and analysing the meter data will need to be integrated with other systems within the business’s operations. It’s likely that this data will also need to be integrated with other services and data sources (e.g., location, weather, customer data, field service and maintenance systems) to give it additional context and enable a greater degree of personalisation to the end consumer.
Water Quality Management
Digital solutions are a key element to controlling the quality of water being provided to end consumers. Monitoring and measurement equipment along the entire supply chain provide crucial data that should be easily accessible to the water authority to track the quality of their core consumable product.
Beyond understanding the quality of the water supply itself, this data can also provide accurate and early indication of issues along the wider water supply network that affect quality. These data points create predictive, actionable insights when integrated with AI and Machine Learning platforms and assist with the automation of field service inspection and maintenance requests, creating more efficient utilisation of the manual labour workforce.
Digital Transformation of the Water Authority
Along with rolling out specific solutions for metering and water quality data management, the modern water authority is also undergoing broader organisational digital transformation. The rapid increase in availability and adoption of cloud services is driving forward the IT and digital agendas of water authorities, but they still need to align the convergence of this IT-led evolution with their OT systems and critical infrastructure.
The WSAA and IoTAA Digital Reference Framework highlights exactly how this looks from a technology stack and capability standpoint, with Integration and Interoperability a critical layer that is needed to facilitate efficient, supportable, and scalable bridging of OT and IT environments and data. Breaking data from silos within the operations and business areas of the water authority will maximise the usability of data in the systems and teams where insights and decisions are made.
Realising the Potential for IIoT and Integrated Solutions in the Water Industry
Reekoh is an Industrial IoT Integration Platform that can solve any problem that water and wastewater authorities experience with data integration and management between their OT and IT systems and devices. With hundreds of integrations already deployed, and an agile, low-code set of tools to design solutions to the most complex of data requirements, Reekoh provides a manageable and enterprise-grade solution to customers needing to bring fragmented data together for delivering predictive and intelligent outcomes that underpin customer experience, improve service delivery, and reduce operational downtime.
Reekoh solves the problems faced when trying to bring together disparate data sources from across your water operations. From providing hundreds of pre-built integrations, to hybrid deployment models to bridge on-premise and cloud environments, Reekoh’s platform and tools puts you in control of your operational, business and asset data.
To get started, Reekoh also provides expert consulting services to help organisations uncover and document their current state and data challenges, and to design best-practice data strategies and architectures that give a strong foundation to build upon.