Maximizing IT/OT Data for Water Utilities

When it comes to deploying Industrial Internet of things (IIoT) systems, capturing data, and putting that data to use, Water Utilities have traditionally trailed behind other industries. However, in the last few years, there has been a broad recognition that data and analytics are essential for improving operations, safety, and customer satisfaction. More than 6 million IIoT devices are connected each day, and Gartner forecasts that there will be more than 20 billion connected devices by the end of 2020. Increased investments in smarter operations means millions of new devices, and infinite amounts of new data to make smarter decisions about networks. In order to truly maximize the value of IIoT; however, Water Utilities will need to rely heavily on analytics to understand the massive influx of data.

To better understand how utilities are using IIoT devices, the data they're capturing, and how analytics can help drive informed decision making, Zpryme, an Austin-based research agency with focus in the energy space, surveyed over 100 water utility professionals. These professions vary in utility type (municipal, district, state, federal, cooperative, etc), services other than water (wastewater, electric, gas, solid waste), region served, role, and responsibility.

Key findings in this report include:

  • The top data challenges that utilities are facing right now are access to data, amount of data, and data siloes within their organizations
  • In the next 3 years, water utilities will focus heavily on developing CMMS, AMI, LIMS, and supply chain management
  • Aging infrastructure, capital costs, and leaks/breaks are among the top issues facing utilities
  • Utilities firms agree that the Industrial Internet of Things is an important technology trend, and their main concerns are around network security and data privacy
  • Water utilities expect that increased operational efficiency, decision making that's rooted in analytics, and increased security are the top benefits realized from utilizing IIoT applications

“Now's the perfect time for the water industry to take advantage of IIoT devices as they decrease in cost and become prevalent,” says OSIsoft Industry Principal for Water, Gary Wong. “Software analytics and sensors provide the ability for utilities to have situational awareness, whereas, in the past, there was no information at all. This means being able to monitor (not control) water distribution systems, water quality, and sewer collection systems in real-time to make smarter decisions such as detecting a leak in minutes, ensuring safe, clean drinking water and predicting a sewer overflow before it happens.”

See the survey results and further findings in the water research report