Open data can open up opportunity

An open data approach can help water utilities drive efficiencies across their entire operations, says Matthew Hawkridge , chief technology officer, Ovarro

Advances in digital technology mean that siloed data from legacy IT systems within water utilities can now be more easily shared across many platforms. Utilities and municipalities have much to gain from opening up their data and a roundtable discussion at the World Water-Tech Innovation Summit on 23 February is an exciting opportunity to explore the potential an open data approach offers.

Asset data, usually held in an asset management system, can be blended with data from many other sources to generate deeper insights into infrastructure, operations, investment and even customers and human resources. Along with operational data from SCADA systems, data from GIS, leak detection, weather stations and business information systems can be combined to provide true situational awareness in real time.

This richer databank can identify not only cause and effect in many areas of business and operations, but also determine what is likely to happen in the future. Such insights can drive efficiency on many fronts, for example, in scheduling predictive maintenance. Accessing alarm data on water networks has certainly helped advance Ovarro’s thinking and innovation in this area.

Of course creating a more comprehensive and effective databank also makes it more valuable. The water sector is custodian of critical infrastructure and resources, so it is essential that while data is made available, that is done securely so that sensitive information does not fall into the wrong hands.  

Most water utilities that I have dealt with are happy to open up their data to trusted parties to help add value to their own business operations and I look forward to hearing plenty of examples and a sharing of expertise at the World Water-Tech Innovation Summit.

The virtual World Water-Tech Innovation Summit takes place on 23-24 February 2021. Matthew Hawkridge is leading a roundtable discussion on 'Open Data: Democratising Innovation' at 12.55 on 23 February. He is also participating in a panel discussion on non-revenue water loss.