How water conservation and management is floating on the clouds

How water conservation and management is floating on the clouds

From sewage disposal to blue-green algae and hosepipe bans, water management has rarely been in the public eye. however, utility Cloud-based applications and platforms are increasingly being adopted to further leverage this valuable resource.

Amazon Web Services (AWS), Accenture and Colombia’s Ecopetrol, for example, are looking to address the entire water-use cycle through a water intelligence initiative announced in March 2022, which they see as contributing Net-zero initiatives and sustainability targets straddling the water and energy sectors, allowing participants to share data that promotes water reuse both within and between industries.

According to Ecopetrol’s chief executive, Felipe Bayon, collaboration is needed to “really ignite change” because companies cannot solve environmental challenges alone.

“We will use this platform to accelerate … capture 66% of freshwater by 2045 and reduce zero discharges to surface water, improving the environment in the communities where we operate,” Bayon said.

AWS chief executive Adam Selipsky said the idea is to combine data from previously disparate sources across Ecopetrol’s operations using Accenture “Industry Insights” with high-performance computing (HPC) and AWS cloud-based machine learning and artificial intelligence services. and storage.

“Like the others Sustainable initiatives“Water conservation is a big data problem,” Selipsky said

Raymond Ma, General Manager, Europe, Australia and New Zealand Alibaba Cloud IntelligenceSays this includes smart monitoring with alerts and efficiency around water supply and demand through automated regulation.

Process optimization can further reduce water consumption, with deep learning deployed to power predictive maintenance, including setting power operating intervals. developed Equipment performance and predictability That can provide early warning of potential outages, saving even more costs and resources over time.

“For example, when a water pipe bursts, digital systems can quickly locate and identify the location and provide scientific decision-making references for emergency response, which can reduce the amount of water lost in such accidents,” Ma told Computer Weekly. .

“Proven intelligence analysis technology can predict future water consumption, while water supply and water pressure can be adjusted more precisely.”

Industry-specific cloud applications, such as Endress+Hauser’s Netilion Water Network Insights cloud-based monitoring of water flow, pressure, temperature, water level and more, have been emerging in recent years, and UK utilities e.g. Yorkshire Water Progress continues on the path to digital transformation.

Cloud analytics supports ‘real opportunity’ for water industry

Gary Ashby, enterprise data architect at Yorkshire Water, says many British water firms have been collecting data from a variety of assets above and below ground, treatment works, pumping stations, reservoirs and the like for years, many water utilities have existed in one form or another. For almost a century.

“In the last 30-35 years, it has become more computerized, but historically it was very difficult to organize, and in the past, the water industry was quite fragmented, with different teams and treatment functions working in different ways, including recording and storing data,” Ashby said. said

“The cloud allows us to provide an evergreen technology environment – ​​we’ve got a continuously managed, secure scalable environment for our data. We tried to create a data reservoir in the cloud.”

Gary Ashby, Yorkshire Water

Today, cloud computing is supporting “real opportunities” for the water industry, including analytics through its ability to rapidly process large amounts of data. Meanwhile, managers and planners no longer want to wait for technological innovation – they seek agility and for Yorkshire Water, that means development and improvement. Predictive monitoring and maintenance power

“The cloud allows us to provide an evergreen technology environment – ​​we’ve got a continuously managed, secure, scalable environment for our data. In the past, we had large datacenters, which we needed to build the capacity to deal with data analytics and all the things that go with it,” Ashby said. “We tried to build a data reservoir in the cloud.”

Yorkshire Water is in the process of moving “a lot of our data” into that reservoir – “a sort of enterprise data catalog in the cloud” – for analytics purposes, creating consistency and accessibility of data from multiple technologies. There are hybrid and public cloud components.

“What the cloud offers is a faster path to both proving concepts and scaling designs and changing or evolving designs,” he says.

With “nearly half a million” different pieces of equipment located over thousands of miles, Yorkshire Water Now it is beginning to be able to identify where incidents such as leaks are likely to occur and reduce the likelihood of those incidents occurring. It is also aggregating data to help analyze customer sentiment.

“Water is a very multi-factorial, very weather-dependent and affected business, and has traditionally been rather reactive,” says Ashby. “Now we can get a real sense of how we’re performing now and how we might perform in the future.”

Leeds-based data consultancy partner Auckland Group is currently helping the firm move further down the cloud-based path.

As the use case for “smart water” expands, there are ambitions for what can be achieved with more consistent, traceable enterprise datasets, even as systems are swapped out, says Oakland director Andy Crosley.

Cloud considerations in the background of the overall system

This means paying more attention to governance, people, processes, operating models and more.

“Because you can plug in all the data you want, it can be perfect quality with a shiny dashboard that’s dead shiny and works in real time, but if someone doesn’t decide to put the decisions behind it, it’s irrelevant,” says Crossley.

Cloud adaptability and flexibility means Yorkshire Water doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel. It can benefit from using a public cloud and a Microsoft stack, while still dealing with the nuances of its own situation, its specific legacy technologies, as well as the climate and geography that affect the way water moves through regional ecosystems.

“Water utilities are under enormous pressure to do more with less – to reduce costs while improving or maintaining service levels and water quality.”

Paul Doody,

Iterative design takes elements that are more off the shelf and how to stitch those elements together in a way that reflects Yorkshire Water’s need to “own, operate and evolve” the system, he says.

How companies handle classic objections to a cloud Cyber ​​Security perspective? “Not all data needs to be equally protected and protected. You have to work out what your high-risk, high-value data is,” says Crossley. “Data governance plays a really important role.”

Paul Doody, CEO and founder of, is working with cloud, blockchain and location technology providers. Scottish Waters. Detailed information on water infrastructure development and emergency call-outs in case of work or problems are becoming important.

“Water utilities are under tremendous pressure to do more with less – to reduce costs while improving or maintaining service levels and water quality,” said Doody. “Demand is growing, but the network itself is made up of old and new parts, making it difficult to identify problem areas, leaks and where to prioritize maintenance.”

Kieran Blackstone, co-founder and chief operating officer of consultancy Technuvo, agrees. Tecknuovo has helped Thames water Move from its siled data applications and on-premise datacenters to a cloud ecosystem.

Like Yorkshire Water, the group is building a Data Lake Above a single “landing zone,” incorporating data pulled from various applications and standardizing, machine learning models and predictive applications will be added.

“The lake will contain all historical datasets but will be quality checked and standardized, meaning it will contain a single, clean copy of the data,” says Blackstone. “This will make life easier for the product team at Thames Water and avoid reuse of datasets.”

Blackstone added that the project evolved as the business identified more opportunities to adopt new technologies that would help it and its customers. To date, the project has delivered 21 reusable integrations, increased output efficiency by 500% and halved the number of customer complaints, he says.

Adding more data to the cloud-based toolbox

Pascal Devynck, head of international sales at infrastructure lifecycle management provider Trimble, confirms that the cloud has become essential to the transformation of water utilities in many countries, in part because fewer providers than ever are able to offer a complete solution – including the Internet of Things (IoT). sensorPlatforms and applications – their own.

“The way to overcome the increasing complexity and difficulties of managing all technologies is cloud-based, which gives the ability to play not only with your own data but also integrated third-party things and data, whether it’s a third-party player already implemented or potentially implemented in a specific network. will be done,” he said.

“You have to know where your network is, where the failures are, where your incidents are happening, where your field crews are. Geospatial information systems offer the ability to provide this. If you onboard it on top of your network data, you can mix them.”

Pascal Devinck, Trimble

Accurate mapping of water catchments, infrastructure and areas under care through the integration of geospatial data and information is being targeted by multiple utilities, including Welsh Water, which is working with UK engineering firm Arup on granular catchment and river resource management.

In Sutton and East Surrey, Trimble software with embedded Esri mapping helps manage the water network while also meeting local council permitting requirements.

“You have to know where your network is, where the failures are, where your incidents are happening, where your field crews are. Geospatial Information System (GIS) empower it to provide. If you onboard it on top of your network data, you can mix them,” says Devinck.

“Then, if you post it to the cloud, you have the ability to be near real-time, better insights, better monitoring of efficiency and productivity, capital and operational spending. It’s like a virtuous circle.”

Although the full value of all the data collected is yet to be realized, what Devink calls “the interaction between remote monitoring questions and work management skills” is becoming more productive.

“Are we fully predictive AI machine learning solutions? No, not yet, but the market isn’t there yet,” he says.

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