Technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), data analysis, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, augmented reality and blockchain provide water utilities with new capacities to extend asset life, reduce leaks, avoid attacks and other anomalies in the supply networks, improve quality and service standards, and promote operating efficiencies.
The water sector has the great advantage of being in a position to implement lessons learnt by other sectors, such as gas and electricity, in the process of digital transformation, thereby
reaping the benefits of the best practices that have been established, which range from the use of smart meters to increasing profits.
Experts envisage that over the next decade, all public services will evolve from time-based maintenance to condition-based maintenance. Thus, by adopting the capacity to understand
the effective age of assets and forecast possible failures, public services will be able to identify and programme massive improvements in maintenance activities to extend service life as well as strategic planning of asset replacement in the long term.
Another area of progress will be artificial intelligence and augmented reality. The capacity to process images taken during normal inspection operations will enable rapid identification of anomalies and faults by combining patterns with previously analysed and classified images. This will enable us to identify hundreds or thousands of fault models and to create others that use cognitive technologies trained by human experts.
Also of great interest is the application of digital technologies to leak detection, water quality management and asset evaluation. We are now in a more privileged position to understand conservation requirements in times of drought, thanks to precise modelling of groundwater and conservation habits.
Maurizio De Stefano
Director of Energy & Utilities and Head of Water Practice & Environment at Minsait