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Market intelligence firm Frost & Sullivan forecasts the global smart water grid market to hit $22.2 billion in 2020 owing to increasing investments in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solutions by utilities.

Driving utilities to invest in IIoT is the need to improve the management of water infrastructure as well as to convert assets to smart infrastructure in a bid to reduce non-revenue water and to optimise leak management.

Digital transformation solutions such as smart water meters and smart online sensors that support the holistic transformation of utilities into a smart infrastructure will experience the highest investments.

Paul Hudson, an industry analyst of sustainability at Frost & Sullivan, said: “Water and wastewater utilities are widely adopting data analytics platforms as analytics-driven intelligence is gradually becoming a key requirement for ensuring regulatory compliance and economic sustainability.

“By combining Artificial Intelligence (AI) with data analytics, technology companies have developed solutions that can learn from various events and provide customised preventive measures. The predictive and prescriptive intelligence not only improves the resilience of the infrastructure but also minimises the damage to the environment.

“Utilities that are embracing IIoT-based digital transformation are likely to adopt a modular approach that can be scaled over a period to cover the entire asset,” noted Hudson. “As every utility has a unique set of challenges, smart solutions need to be first customised and then integrated into a single platform. Eventually, there will be a continual focus on upgrading software solutions and expanding their capabilities to include even climatic factors and climate change goals.”

In addition to investing in advanced IIoT sensors and data analytics platforms, smart water treatment or management product/solution providers will find growth opportunities by:

  • Modify their product lines to suit conventional infrastructure instead of merely focusing on new build/installation projects.
  • Modularise their offerings and providing asset management and business intelligence as separate customised modules. This will allow them to focus on providing value to maintain and maximise the data generated by their product/solution.
  • Partner with holistic data analytics solutions providers, which can effectively maximize asset management and intelligence capabilities.
  • Engage in M&A with large engineering, procurement and construction and operation & maintenance companies, which can help with market penetration in both the new build and existing project base.

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