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How To Evaluate Water Data Solutions

During the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers had to find ways to track the disease. They quickly turned their attention to water. This valuable resource touches all levels of society; using modern data analytics, the researchers could build accurate models around the disease’s spread and behaviour. This approach isn’t new: researchers have been using water data to track diseases, pollution, and even food and drug consumption.

Water carries a lot of valuable information, and this is particularly true for managing water itself. Municipal and private sector experts can use modern analytics with historical and current data to manage water and wastewater systems, enhancing strategic visibility and creating 360 Performance. Data is radically improving water management without removing or invalidating established systems.

To help inform water and wastewater managers’ decisions, Xylem Africa recommends the following questions to evaluate water data analytics and management solutions:

  • What are the administration features?
  • What are the integration options?
  • How quick is the user training?
  • Are there consolidated and customisable dashboards?
  • Does the service consolidate data?
  • Can the service offer customised alerts?
  • Does the system support predictive analytics?
  • Is the solution cloud-based?
  • Is the solution secure?

What are the administration features? Modern administration systems should provide granular, role-based user access and privilege controls, and grouping of devices and billing cycles. Their management tools must offer a menu of continuously updated reports that instantly summarise information for improved productivity, visibility and decision-making.

What are the integration options? The best data solutions do not rip and replace existing systems. They integrate into established equipment such as SCADA software, Advanced Metering Infrastructure and Automated Meter Reading. They should also support established and future sensors and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and incorporate historical data.

How quick is the user training? If it takes months of training before staff and partners can use the data systems, you are wasting your time. Training should happen within weeks, based on an operations-aligned change management strategy and backed by additional information sources and self-learning opportunities.

Are there consolidated and customisable dashboards? Generic dashboards won’t cut it; the system must offer customisable dashboards that consolidate different data sources. These dashboards should be secure yet accessible on multiple devices and shareable between authorised users. Users should be able to drill down into individual events, understand usage history and trends, identify anomalies, and set custom alerts to track specific issues.

Does the service consolidate data? Disparate and conflicting data will severely limit the effectiveness of any analytics and insights platform. Water data solutions should consolidate different data sources into a single truth, but without compromising the integrity of the sources. Consolidated data helps create assets such as single billing files, ad-hoc reporting, and reliance on accuracy, not estimates.

Can the service offer customised alerts? Time is crucial when something goes wrong; a top water management solution provides customised alerts targeted at specific stakeholders along the value chain. It must offer custom alerts—from system-wide to specifics such as temperature, voltage, leaks, tampering, and other flags—delivered via SMS, e-mail and phone call.

Does the system support predictive analytics? Analytics discover and use new insights by studying historical and current data. The best water management platforms use machine learning to identify trends, facilitate audits, generate histories, and enable deeper exploration for strategic planning and predictive maintenance.

Is the solution cloud-based? Though some managers are sceptical about cloud-based software, the cloud is much more flexible, secure and cost-effective than older technologies. Cloud-based water management provides access to information on any device (PC, tablet, mobile phone, etc.), incorporates security and data loss prevention, and ensures authorised staff can manage water requirements anywhere.

Is the solution secure? Data security is a genuine concern and not to be taken lightly. Leading water management solutions invest in cybersecurity, including ISO 27001 certification, and they help their clients run cyber-safe workplaces. Additionally, cloud-based secure platforms increase data protection and business resilience.

Xylem Africa is the leading provider of “fourth industrial revolution” water data solutions for a more rational and sustainable management of water resources.

Our 360 Performance services are defining what it means to manage legacy and modern water operations with digital and data assets, including Xylem SAM PRO real-time asset condition monitoring and management, Sensus Cordonel® ultrasonic metering solution, Xylem optimyze™  predictive maintenance monitoring module, and the Xylem Avensor pump station monitoring system.

Digital data systems add enormous benefits to any water site—old or new, public or private. Add intelligence, gather information from current sensors, harvest historic data, and use the convenience of the cloud for secure remote access and dashboards for effective insights.

Whatever your water management challenges, consider how water data solutions can offer effective, affordable and immediate results. Our future relies on water, and the future of water relies on data-driven intelligence. Manage both effectively, and you control the future of your water operations.