Water sustains life – and society.
But of the three hundred plus million trillion gallons of water on planet Earth, humans can only live on a meager two percent of such amount. Since time immemorial, we have relied on freshwater as a primary source and means of food, sanitation, navigation and protection. As civilizations developed, so did our need for water evolve to fuel our advancements.
But this irreplaceable resource is under grave threat. And with so much at stake, utilities and authorities in the water industry must develop effective, resilient and sustainable water management strategies to ensure that there is enough water for us, our planet, and our future generations.
The role of digital solutions
Digital solutions can help the water sector address the biggest threats to water at the root level and alleviate their negative impact on life and property.
Information is key to effective, sustainable and lifesaving water management. Using insightful information models, water utilities can gain a solid, actionable understanding of their challenges and opportunities, as well as the wider situation of the global water sector.
Digital water management solutions can speed up, even automate, the process of creating information models. They can boost the efficiency and accuracy of these models through artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify increasingly subtle and powerful insights, giving utilities a more accurate and holistic view of how water is being – and should be – used.
In the short-term, information modeling can help utilities meet customers’ needs, maintain their assets and infrastructure, and ensure that projects and services are delivered efficiently and in a timely manner. In the long-term, it can help them safeguard their local water supply and ensure that future generations will enjoy the same access to clean, running water that they do.
Digital twins are the realistic, virtual representation of physical systems or infrastructures that capture all essential information about them into one, digital space. They provide invaluable insights based on actual, real-time data, greatly supporting decision-making while being cost-, time-, and resource-efficient.
Digital twins allow water utilities to take “what if” scenario planning and modeling to the next level. Beyond the real-time data they provide, they can give utilities insight into the future with simulations that can visually show how certain conditions can affect individual assets or whole networks, allowing utilities to prepare proactively. Organizations can “build” entire complexes and “create” as many networks as they need virtually, at a tiny fraction of what it would have cost to do so in reality.
Then there is the advantage of operational support, especially for people. Employees and stakeholders can “see” job sites, familiarizing themselves with the structure, even without having to be there in person. In addition to learning the on-ground operations, utilities can also use this function to simulate safety training to coach their employees through possible scenarios at the site. Digital twins can provide a consistent context in which different parts of the organization can align, making it easier to bring people together across different teams for more seamless collaboration and improved synergy.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning
Finally, digital solutions bolster people’s skills and expertise, and elevate their value to new heights Advanced analytics like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning increase the efficiency and impact of decisions by providing operators with greater access to insights buried deep within data. As water management systems experience requirements and loads beyond what they had been initially designed to handle, AI and machine learning can help utilities understand the demand on an hour-by-hour weather-dependent level rather than the daily average, which can prove the difference between water out of the tap and getting caught out.
Through digital solutions, decision-makers have more power to make smarter, more precise decisions even against increasingly complex parameters. This, in turn, has a stronger, more meaningful impact on people, especially in places where resources are already constrained.
Water is, quite simply, life.
The world as we know it is only possible because we have access to clean, fresh water. Water is our most valuable asset we have and it will take a collective effort to safeguard this precious resource and ensure we have enough for ourselves and future generations. Water utilities, policymakers and institutions must take an active, leadership role in managing this resource now and in the future. With the right strategies and tools, we can efficiently, sustainably and successfully manage water for ourselves and for the next generations.
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