In this article, we take a look at how an old era of disconnected systems and siloed data is being rapidly replaced by a highly interconnected and powerful ecosystem supported by cloud computing and data analytics.
A Data-Driven Transformation
Managing Canada’s water resources is a difficult job. Not only is the responsibility shared among multiple types and levels of government (federal, provincial, municipal, Indigenous), water managers must also conform to multiple sets of policies, laws, and specifications that often span political boundaries and borders.
With aging water infrastructure, increased risk factors for flooding and storm surges, and changing regulations, the water sector is looking for better ways to manage and make use of their water data.
This rapid rise in both complexity and need means that an era is over.
The era of disconnection, of individual water utilities using their own custom spreadsheets, (or clipboards, pen and paper), to collect siloed data that only looks at a single slice of the water ecosystem – that era is over.
Traditional water utilities are being transformed by data analytics, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and IoT (Internet of Things).
The water sector is transforming into a connected water ecosystem that looks at the whole water cycle rather than a loosely connected network of individual water organizations, each looking at its single slice of the story.
Several Canadian innovators are driving this global transformation.
Aquatic Informatics is one such leader. Located in Vancouver BC, the company has a set of tools that centralize data management, simplify analysis, automate workflows, share information, and ensure regulatory compliance.
As a software-focused company, Aquatic Informatics provides solutions that monitor and protect water across the entire water cycle – source water, drinking water, municipal and industrial wastewater, and the receiving environment. Their tools give water managers a more comprehensive picture of not only their utility or local watershed but also potential sources of problems upstream or downstream.
For Aquatic Informatics, it’s not just about using software or monitoring tools to collect data – it’s about understanding and learning in a more holistic way:
“As organizations start to look outside of their silo and into the entire watershed, we want to help them transform data to knowledge. It’s not enough to just have one piece of the puzzle. Our systems help them see the big picture. ” – Chris Heyer, Senior Director, Sales, Aquatic Informatics
How Big is This Problem?
Well, it’s big. The need for better data systems is urgent.
How do water organizations ensure that they are in compliance with a growing number of complex regulations, ensure health and safety, adjust to climate change with an aging infrastructure, while maintaining reasonable rates for their customers?
The only way is to adapt modern data management and data intelligence systems. Water organizations have to move beyond collecting data for simple reporting purposes into analyzing, sharing, and understanding water data – a data sharing ecosystem that is only possible with advanced software tools such as those offered by Aquatic Informatics.
This will be a big shift for many water organizations. There are different reporting regulations, and policies vary province-by-province, even city-to-city. Many water utilities have systems they’ve built on their own for their own applications, but they are finding that as the needs grow, they are still siloed and not adapting as fast as they need to.
Data and Confidence
Canadian water software companies like Aquatic Informatics (and others like Digital Water Solutions, Klir, and CANN Forecast) can help water managers understand and leverage the data they are collecting to make decisions around big picture water problems, such as adapting to climate change and replacing aging infrastructure.
These decisions will have to happen fast. They will have to happen collaboratively. And they will require not just knowledge, but real understanding and insight that can only happen with large-scale, shared data analytics.
Advanced data and software systems give water utility managers the confidence they need to move forward and will play a vital role in Canada’s growing and connected water innovation ecosystem.
Want to explore Canada’s water industry? Check out the waterNEXT Ecosystem Map, a data-driven, searchable map of Canada’s water organizations, companies and solution providers.
Download “The Road to 2050 – Bridging the Gap Between Challenges and Solutions in Water” for a snapshot of the roadmaps and approaches that are guiding the water sector in BC.