Modernizing network management at water utilities uses digital technology, including GIS and IoT devices, to identify concerns and avoid costly repairs.
The water industry is contending with three primary challenges: Aging infrastructure, water stress from drought or flooding, and critical water quality issues. These challenges, along with an aging utility workforce and rate affordability issues, are motivating utility executives to find technological solutions that will improve the physical assets and infrastructure supporting our water, wastewater and stormwater systems.
For utilities, modernizing network management is the process of integrating digital technology and innovative practices to support efficiency, reliability and sustainability of the physical utility network and overall system. This process involves transitioning from manual processes to digital solutions that will improve observation, maintenance and enhancements of the network. Utility executives who enable digital modernization for management of a real-world network will benefit from a more proactive and interactive approach to real-world asset management and operations. These digital networks can represent both the physical networks found “outside of the fence” and the networks that are used inside facilities such as production and treatment plants.
To effectively manage utility infrastructure, owners and operators of utilities are thinking comprehensively about all aspects of the utility network. In addition to knowing the locations of critical assets, owners and operators can benefit from understanding the interconnections and interdependencies among those assets. By enhancing the digital representation of the water, wastewater or stormwater network, owners and operators can expect improved collaboration between field, plant and office personnel because the digital network map, current-state of system assets and resources, and key performance indicators are accessible from a smartphone, tablet or computer, creating opportunities for real-time updates and information sharing.
In addition to supporting immediate communication and collaboration, modernizing network management helps utilities retain institutional knowledge, understand the network’s current status and future performance, and analyze data in real time. Modernizing network management also facilitates the integration of Internet of Things (IoT) sensors.
Modernizing network management for water, wastewater, and stormwater utilities includes eight distinct steps focusing on technological and operational enhancements that should result in improved efficiencies and reliable service delivery, while providing operators with a comprehensive and up-to-date digital representation of the water network.
The eight steps required to modernize network management for water utilities:
While water utilities across the U.S. contend with aging infrastructure, stressors from flooding and drought, and water quality issues, the modernization process will incorporate digital technologies to help utility staff understand the current state of water, wastewater and stormwater networks, and areas of concern. Through these state-of-the-art technology solutions, utility staff can quickly identify problem areas and take action to avoid costly repairs and service interruptions.