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Smart Water Programs Seek to Uncover Data for Improved Operations

Water and wastewater systems use hundreds and sometimes thousands of data-producing instruments, but much of that information remains isolated. There is little two-way communication, so the vast amount of data stays buried, just as the water infrastructure itself is mostly buried and out of sight. Smart water programs are seeking to change all that. 

“You can rapidly process intelligent sensor data at the device level and take immediate action if warranted, and that’s a big advancement,” said Fred Ellermeier, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Smart Integrated Infrastructure for Black & Veatch. “This is what is called edge computing, where the data is analyzed at the source of the data, and it doesn’t have to go back to a centralized node.”  

This means that the potential for useful information available to water and wastewater utilities has grown exponentially in recent years. 

“Many years ago, a pump just told you whether it was on or off. Now a pump tells you its speed, efficiency, vibration, temperature and more,” said Jeff Neemann, Smart Integrated Infrastructure Sector Lead for Black & Veatch’s water business. “This information can help optimize the operation of that pump, as well as maintain the pump, doing the right amount of maintenance at the right time.”

Smart Integrated Infrastructure is the combining of intelligent infrastructure with data analytics that leads to actionable information. Black & Veatch’s ASSET360TM smart analytics platform serves as an integration and analysis point for that information. 

ASSET360 has two key aspects to it – Operational Intelligence and Adaptive Planning. Operational Intelligence provides insights that help optimize day-to-day operating and maintenance practices to boost reliability and efficiency. This can include important monitoring and diagnosis services that provide a dashboard for clients to see deeply into their systems via the cloud in near real time. Adaptive Planning focuses on the future, using scenario analysis and predictive analytics to better inform asset management, long-term capital expenditures and other planning decisions.