Article | June 27, 2019

The Digital Utility: Exposing Dark Data Within Our Buried Infrastructure

Source: Bentley Systems

By Gregg Herrin, Senior Director of Water Infrastructure, Bentley Systems

The Digital Utility

The main challenges of water utilities are the same as they have always been—struggling with aging and insufficient infrastructure, while trying to deliver safe, reliable, and cost-effective service. There are some things that are increasingly influencing the complexity and risks associated with these challenges, like population shifts and land-use changes from rapid urbanization, increases in extreme hydrometeorological events and natural disasters, and increased public expectations and government regulations.

Many utilities don’t really know how to address these challenges, so they do things that seem important, like collecting electronic data in unprecedented volumes, such as output from smart meters, sensors, and various types of inspections. However, they continue struggling to use that data to support better decisions, in part because many lack the digital technology to improve their business processes. The digital movement represents an opportunity for water organizations to change how they work by leveraging data more effectively, but it also represents a risk – without a way to use their data effectively to address real problems, many utilities find themselves drowning in data while thirsting for insight.

This is one of the things that I am the most excited about – we have the ability to help utilities get the most out of their existing assets by accessing data currently isolated in disconnected IT environments, spreadsheets, and paper records to help them meet their objectives to deliver safe, reliable, and efficient service to their customers.