By Will Sarni, Cassidy White, Randolf Webb, Katharine Cross, and Raul Glotzbach
“Digital water is already here” is the clear message after interviewing utility executives and leading experts from around the globe. From big data solutions to advanced management of the distribution network to digital customer engagement programs, nearly all utilities we talked to have begun the digital transformation journey. While the transformation is not always easy, with aging infrastructure, inadequate investment, changing climate and demographics, digital water is now seen not as an ‘option’ but as an ‘imperative.’
The foundational elements of water services – resource sustainability, infrastructure management, and financial stability – have been under threat for years. The business-as-usual practices in the water and wastewater sector cannot be relied on to sustain services. A more sustainable and secure water future means moving to the next generation of water systems, which includes embracing digital solutions and the enabling conditions that can support their effective implementation.
Just as digital technologies are transforming many aspects of our world – from our cities, to our homes and our personal lives – they are also transforming water. How will digital technologies transform our relationship with water – not just the water and wastewater utility sector but how all stakeholders connect to and manage water?
This paper – largely based on interviews, surveys and inputs from nearly 50 utility executives and over 20 subject matter experts – examines how digitalisation is transforming the water sector through the experiences of water and wastewater utilities. The aim of this report is to provide an overview of the current state of digital in the water sector, the value potential for digital solutions, and the lessons learned from those on the digital journey. By creating a comprehensive body of knowledge from 40 utilities at various stages in their digital water journey, the paper can serve as a critical tool for water decision makers and for all those interested in advancing global water security and sustainability.