Risks and alternatives of digital transformation explored at British Water Knowledge Convention

Lila Thompson, chief government of British Water, addressing the convention.

The sixth British Water Knowledge Convention, which occurred on 3 November 2022, kicked off with a warning from keynote speaker Oliver Grieveson on the “risks and alternatives” round digital transformation.
The occasion occurred on the Royal Faculty of Pathology in London, however the physique of water infrastructure was the one below examination on this event, not least, the well being of the instrumentation monitoring some 375,000 mixed sewage and stormwater overflows (CSOs) within the UK wastewater community.
“Quite a lot of that knowledge we all know is fake,” Grieveson stated, “due to the standard of what we’re doing with instrumentation.” He additionally mirrored on the “sheer quantity of knowledge about to hit the water business” as new instrumentation comes on-line within the subsequent few years, and the problem to the folks tasked with making sense of it.
The convention gave delegates the chance to listen to updates from plenty of winners of Ofwat’s innovation competitions first hand. The tasks led by Yorkshire Water, Anglian Water, Severn Trent Water, South West Water and United Utilities are funded by the £200 million Innovation Fund arrange by the regulator to assist develop the water sector’s capability to innovate.
First up was Yorkshire Water’s Blockage Predictor Undertaking set as much as determine websites susceptible to air pollution. With sensors deployed throughout the utility’s CSO asset base, Heather Sheffield, the utility’s built-in planning & central management supervisor (wastewater), stated 24% extra blockages had been discovered and 65% have been detected sooner than beforehand.
Talking of the worth of discovering the proper companions to collaborate with, on this occasion German expertise firm Siemens, she stated, “One of many challenges now we have is that idea, culturally, that we will do all the things ourselves – and we simply can’t. This partnership has helped speed up a few of this considering and the implementation of AI [artificial intelligence] throughout our asset base to assist us handle service threat.”
Subsequent was Anglian Water’s £8 million Secure Good Methods Undertaking (SSSP), which entails 26 companions, and focuses on the primary steps to attain autonomous management of UK water techniques. Presenter George Schley, marketing consultant enterprise architect/analyst at US engineering firm Jacobs, defined that digital options have to be scalable and adoptable by different water utilities.
“Defining the widespread language” is likely one of the most essential issues within the SSSP challenge, he stated, promising that an info administration framework (IMF) was an output of the challenge that may be “shareable with everybody”.
Schley additionally spoke of the challenges of getting knowledge from operatives within the discipline who’re generally working below probably the most tough circumstances, at night time and in dangerous climate: “Persons are considered one of our most essential sensors.” he stated.
His ideas on the significance of individuals have been echoed by South West Water knowledge scientist James-Pascal Mercer, who’s concerned in one other Ofwat funded challenge analyzing the impact of tourism on area-level water demand in Devon and Cornwall and the way it may be used to make predictions.
After sharing outcomes displaying larger correlation of customer numbers and demand in coastal areas, he stated, “The operators already knew intuitively what the info revealed from their years of expertise. We wished to confirm it.”
Gigi Karmous-Edwards, founder and co-chair of the Good Water Networks Discussion board (SWAN) work group for digital twins, stated that setting finest follow on these superior digital instruments is a crucial subsequent step. Constructing on the theme of a shared language, she proposed that everybody undertake a typical definition of a digital twin as: “A dynamic digital illustration of real-world entities and their behaviours utilizing fashions with static and dynamic knowledge that allow insights and interactions to drive actionable and improved outcomes.”
The that means of open knowledge given consideration by plenty of audio system, with Adam Cartwright, head of IoT purposes at Siemens asking, “Knowledge open to who? Interoperability is extra essential than openness. The general public don’t must know the effectivity of a pump, they should know the end result.”
Thanking delegates on the finish of the packed day, Tracy Britton, chair of British Water’s Knowledge & Analytics Focus Group, and sensible water options director at Jacobs, got here again to the theme of collaboration: “We now have to get higher at not simply speaking about collaboration, however enabling it,” she stated, highlighting the Ofwat tasks and the necessity to take them out of silos and “convey all the things collectively”.
The occasion was sponsored by Innovyze, an Autodesk firm, which offers digital software program for water professionals.

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