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WWT Explains Design thinking for smart networks

In our latest WWT Explains guide, produced in association with Novotek, we look at design thinking for smart networks.

Smart water networks are driven by a challenging mix of different purposes. The lessons which have already been learnt through initial explorations of promising technologies can now be used to set a path and start moving forward.

The challenges include:

  1. Better water resource stewardship, with reduced consumption and fewer leaks;
  2. Improved sustainability measures such as lower use of chemicals and energy, and minimised major works and associated inputs and environmental risks;
  3. Improved cost controls to protect ratepayers;
  4. Engaging ratepayers as stewards of resources through insight into what drives water investment.

Every water company has different drivers, including by geography, population demographics and installed assets. A utility may be well served by sensors, automated drones or other innovative physical tools, or by advances in materials science, or by technology innovation.

However, everyone’s future will be shaped by more available data. Therefore managing the flow and interpretation of data is vital to all smart network initiatives. On this basis, and using insights from the latest smart network-related projects, a quartet of design principles has emerged.

This guide covers the following topic areas:

  • What is operational technology (OT) data and what are the challenges surrounding it for water companies?
  • What is an historian system and how can it support water utilities’ transition to smart networks?
  • What can cloud technology bring to transitioning into a digital water utility?
  • What are some of the different options for exploring data?
  • What kinds of roles and goals could different individuals and teams adopt within a smart networks project?
  • What is a data signature?
  • Why does focusing on deploying signatures lead to optimal outcomes when developing smart network systems?
  • How can insights be incorporated back into control systems to support operations?
  • How can these new ways of working be shaped so that ongoing technology transition is incorporated into a water utility’s day-to-day business activity?
  • How do these ways of working support the move to distributed water?

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