The IoT (Internet of Things) has proliferated many aspects of personal and professionals lives. The trend is moving into our infrastructure, with a new report suggesting that data has “woven itself into the central fabric of the water economy.”

Black & Veatch’s 2019 Strategic Directions: Water Report surveyed the water industry throughout North America and discovered more than 90% of respondents rely heavily on meter and billing data, customer information, SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems, and operational data.

While the IoT is here for water infrastructure, one of the key challenges is the data is often siloed. Just 5% of respondents indicated they had implemented a robust, fully integrated approach to data, while nearly 60% said their efforts were getting stronger, but weren’t fully integrated.

The bottomline is the IoT for water infrastructure is here, but companies are still trying to determine how to best leverage the critical data. There is a big opportunity to leverage the data for asset management, particularly predictive maintenance. Utilities could use the data as a means to manage the aging water infrastructure.

This access to information is so critical today, especially as 59% of respondents to the Black & Veatch report that catastrophic infrastructure failure tops the list of resilience concerns. This is addition to some of the daunting numbers that the ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) put out with its last Infrastructure Report Card such as the fact that 240,000 water main breaks occur each year. Here’s another fact: Many of the water mains and pipes were laid in the early to mid-20th century, with a lifespan of 75-100 years.

Some of the strategies for addressing infrastructure concerns with water and wastewater is increasing the amount of funding that is invested into rebuilding this infrastructure and preserving tax exempt municipal bond financing to provide communities with affordable access to capital for water infrastructure.

Another option is to tap into the data that utilities are already collecting in order to create sustainability and resiliency plans for water infrastructure. The information could be key to constructing and maintaining our digital water economy.

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