With increasing pressures on water utilities to meet growing demand, reduce non-revenue water losses, and improve operational efficiency, global smart water networks market are expected to expand from $1.1 billion in annual revenue in 2013 to more than $3.3 billion in 2022, Navigant Research has forecast in a new report.

Most of this growth will come in North America, accounting for about 60% of the 2022 revenue, with Europe and Asia-Pacific accounting for most of the remainder.

“The water industry is hungry for change, but also conservative in its operations and restricted in its financial options,” said Eric Woods, research director with Navigant Research. “Smart water networks are an intrinsic part of the transition of the industry to a data-centric business that is able to maximize the benefits of intelligent devices, IT, and communications networks.”

Rapid urbanization will help to drive innovation and growth in the smart water market in coming years, according to the report. In the next 4 decades almost 3 billion additional people living in cities will require drinking water and wastewater services, along with other basic services. Water is becoming a focal point of many cities’ sustainability agendas, but replacing aging water infrastructure in established cities is expensive and disruptive, and building new reservoirs is even more challenging. Smart water networks, which are based on a combination of technologies, can play a role in conserving water and expanding services while using existing infrastructure.

Smart meters are the spearhead for many, but not all, smart water network deployments. Other forms of monitoring, including leak detection, pressure management, and water quality monitoring, are also becoming an integrated part of the real time data network for water operations.

Other findings in the report are that the opportunity presented by the move to smart water networks is attracting a wide range of technology and service suppliers, including established water metering vendors, water network engineering companies, water service companies, infrastructure providers, IT software and service companies, as well as startups and innovators. Three important areas are emerging as the common focus for many of these vendors:

  • Communications infrastructure: The expansion of smart water solutions beyond metering and into a wider range of remote device monitoring and control applications provides opportunities for both existing communications providers and new entrants.
  • Data services: Most players in the smart water network market are targeting the opportunity to offer new analytic capabilities to utilities. Many are looking to extend their current areas of expertise into a wider data management and analytics role in the industry.
  • Integrated water management solutions: Navigant Research expects a gradual consolidation of suppliers and the emergence of integrated solutions for water management offerings. This will happen steadily over the next 3 to 5 years.