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Black & Veatch has released the results of a study conducted to understand the role of data science in the operations of water utilities.

The firm's 2019 Strategic Directions: Water Report states that:

  1. Smarter infrastructure, with data science at its core, will play a crucial role in overcoming varied threats to our water supply
  2. A new culture of data science (precise reads of consumption rates, customer engagement, improved leak detection and climate change planning) can extend our water supply to drive sustainability and resilience
  3. Embracing digital water will better inform the asset management and planning programmes necessary to overcome continued funding challenges
  4. Data science “has woven itself into the central fabric of our water economy.”
  5. More than 90% of respondents rely heavily on meter and billing data, customer information, SCADA systems and operations data to manage operations
  6. However, 5% of respondents have implemented a robust, fully-integrated approach to data management
  7. 60% say their data efforts are getting stronger but are not fully integrated due to collection siloes
  8. 86% of respondents see resilience as a critical priority. But of that number, only half have developed an approach to address the issue, while 36% have yet to make formal plans for achieving it.
  9. While two-thirds of respondents see energy management as very or extremely important, just less than half have an energy master plan in place
  10. Catastrophic infrastructure failure tops the list of resilience concerns, followed by natural or manmade disaster , drought, climate change, cyber-attack and terrorist attack

Cindy Wallis-Lage, president of Black & Veatch’s water business, said: “The Internet of Water – through next-generation collection devices and predictive analytics – has ushered in the ability to funnel disparate data into a single, meaningful snapshot of the entire water ecosystem.

“This ‘single version of the truth’ allows a user to gain insight on the connectivity and synergies within a system to drive operational efficiency, performance predictability, maintenance planning and optimise workforce needs. Data has the power to guide us to new levels of reliability and system optimisation.”

The report looks at how water utilities are working to integrate renewables, both to optimise energy use and lower costs.