The water and wastewater industry is undergoing a digital revolution that will transform the industry and provide huge opportunities for investors.

Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT) will shape the use of technology in urban centers for decades to come. They offer far-reaching opportunities to change the way assets and resources are managed and help cities become more efficient and sustainable. Data management, exploratory analytics, data visualization and predictive algorithms enable the discovery of important behavioral characteristics of highly‚Äźcomplex urban infrastructure.

The Look in the Water Glass

Water management relies on heavy physical infrastructure and reactive administration. This changes with the development of cyber-physical systems, real-time monitoring, big data analysis and predictive machine learning algorithms and the IoT. These systems enable a transition from reacting to optimized, proactive and cost-efficient management processes.

Water demand, for example, is usually affected by temporal fluctuations, seasonal influences and climatic conditions. This dynamic behavior produces fast variations in pressure and flow within the network, affecting structural components as pipes and junctions of the distributions systems. Consequently, pipe networks frequently suffer breakages and leaks, failures and service disruptions that generate financial losses. With big data and Iot, leaks can be detected by correlating changes in flow to the output of a simulation model whose parameters are related to both location and severity of the leak. Qualified predictions for future leakages can be made, too.

Cleaning the Pipe

Sensors sometimes malfunction and cause erroneous readings that negatively influence predicting machine learning algorithms. This obstacle for generating accurate forecasting models was lately addressed by Carl Data Solutions (C.CRL). The Canadian developer of Big-Data-as-a-Service (BDaaS) solutions and Industrial Internet-of-Things (IIoT) applications provides a suite of software tools called Flow Works that allows to monitor, analyze, visualize and predict the status of environmental data, including water, wastewater, rainfall and climatic data.

These applications are used by more than 120 municipalities in North America and Europe to manage their water and wastewater infrastructure.

Microsoft partnered with Carl Data to build an anomaly detection model to automate the identification of erroneous sensors, allowing utilities and municipalities to save water and money by reducing their operational spending on staff.

Outlook

The digital reshaping of the water and wastewater industry provides major opportunities for investors. According to a new report by Global Water Intelligence (GWI), the global market for control and monitoring systems is estimated to be worth 21.3 billion USD in 2016 in the water sector, rising to 30.1 billion USD in 2021. Spending on advanced Big Data management and analysis solutions is expected to grow even faster, at 11.9% per year. In the utility sector, spending on digital and smart solutions is estimated to be worth 17.7 billion USD in 2016.

The GWI report also shows that the biggest market for Big Data water control and monitoring systems is Asia Pacific .Spending is expected to reach 10.3 billion USD in 2021 there, driven by the growth of urban populations, especially in Japan, Malaysia and the Philippines. Due to aging networks infrastructure and treatment plants, the demand for Big Water solutions is rising in North America and Europe, too.

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