Idrica CEO Jaime Barba Shares The Roots And Importance Of Utility Digital Transformation

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Can you tell us about the roots of Idrica?

Idrica is the result of a decade-long digital transformation of processes and infrastructures at the Spanish water utility, Global Omnium, which has been around for 130 years. New equipment was needed on a large scale, such as sensor networks, so GoAigua smart water technology was created to provide real-time data integration from all processes and a holistic view to help boost efficiency.

In 2020, Idrica began to export its innovative GoAigua technology and provide support for its implementations, along with tailored consultancy services. Since Idrica comes from a water utility, our solutions and services are developed and calibrated by experts working in the water sector. We know that each utility has different needs, so we build strategies and solutions to match them.

We aim to promote digitalisation internationally. Idrica is headquartered and currently operates across 400 cities in Spain, and has offices in Romania, the US, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Angola, South Arabia and Qatar. We offer an integrated approach to solutions and services in all of these countries.

What do you see as the main challenges and opportunities for implementing technology in the water sector?

On the path to implementing technology in water utilities, one of the main challenges is overcoming resistance. Cultural change within a company requires C-level executives to have a clear vision and if they do, the transformation will be a success.

When a third party leads the digital transformation, it is important to have ambassadors who can help address hesitations by sharing their strong conviction to change the system.

Each water utility is in a different phase of their digital transformation journey. For this reason, it is important that water cycle management services make the most of existing technology structures. In this sense, the GoAigua technological solution can build a digital structure from the ground up while increasing ROI from past investments.

In regard to emergency planning, like the COVID-19 global pandemic, what role can Digital Twins and other technologies play?

In the current situation, the management of water services is critical and we are seeing that it is driving digitalisation in many utilities around the world. The new universal reality makes it necessary to accommodate remote management in order to guarantee water services for the population.

In order to ensure proper management, it is vital to remotely monitor and operate assets, optimize operating costs in the face of unexpected events, rationalize resources and efficiently manage fieldwork. Technology can also help operators have the appropriate tools for managing emergency situations. Through the GoAigua technology for the transversal management of water services, we can empower companies to face any scenario.

Digital Twins are a valuable tool for contingency plans, as simulation environments can establish optimal procedures and define the best actions for emergency situations. Additionally, they serve as an operators’ training system, by facing simulated scenarios in the control room using historical data.

Our advanced Digital Twin technology can define the best time for network operations and maintenance while helping teams make short term decisions and plan for long-term actions. These are only some of the ways in which our technology can avoid problems as well as optimize resources and the system’s performance.

In addition to ensuring water services, I believe it is also critical that the water industry contributes to the resolution of this pandemic. Through early detection of COVID in wastewater, our technological solution called GoAigua SARS Analytics facilitates decision-making for authorities and technicians in the face of new possible outbreaks.

Can you share how industry collaborations support your business?

We understand that every utility is different so we personalise our solutions and services to meet our clients’ exact needs. We believe in open innovation, and have a strong relationship with GoHub, Global Omnium’s open innovation hub, whose companies act as vertical service providers for new technologies. GoHub also provides us with quick access to cutting-edge solutions, which we can test and validate before they are released to the market. Our relationship with Global Omnium also allows us to validate any new technology, before it is released to the market, as the Spanish water utility is the first place where we implement our solutions. This way we can show our clients the proven ROI of digital innovation before they invest our services and solutions.

Idrica will sponsor the 3rd SWAN Digital Twin Workshop, taking place on July 21, 2020 at 1:00pm EDT, featuring leaders from GoAigua and Global Omnium on the lessons learned from a digital twin implementation and the way forward. The FREE Workshop precedes the SWAN 10th Annual Conference, the largest global smart water event, taking place virtually on July 22-24, 2020. Learn more and register HERE.