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Digitalisation, a catalyst for a better outcome

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Digitalisation has the potential to dramatically transform the world’s water industry, emerging as a powerful tool to combat climate change and enhance sustainable water management. However, this digitalisation process must be sustainable, since it can also reduce natural resources and increase the demand for drinking water, as studies have recently demonstrated with the rise in demand for generative Artificial Intelligence products, like ChatGPT.

The integration of advanced technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data analytics is reshaping how we monitor, manage and optimize water resources. World-leading companies are driving this change and helping utilities and water businesses become climate-neutral and energy-positive. In the newly launched issue of Smart Water Magazine Bimonthly 19, readers will be witnesses to this new reality. In Sweden, Siemens has assisted utility VA SYD in detecting and eliminating water leaks from pipelines using artificial intelligence (AI). HMS Networks also reveals how SIWAtec benefitted from applying the company’s remote monitoring Ewon solution for operation without on-site staff, ensuring drinking water quality, enabling predictive maintenance, optimizing costs, and estimating water demand using external data. 

This digital transformation, however, would not be possible without water utilities first embracing innovation and recognizing the potential that technology can often provide by becoming a catalyst to create a new way to deliver a better outcome, as Martin Jackson, Head of Digital Strategy & Product Management at Northumbrian Water points out in his interview. And providing a better outcome is exactly what Sydney Water has set out to do. Featuring in our front cover, Emma Pyror, Head of Major Project Delivery at Sydney Water, explains in an exclusive interview how Australia’s largest single water utility is working to adapt to a new reality, one that includes a changing climate, a rapidly growing population and changing customer needs and priorities. Centered around innovation, Sydney Water has an ambitious plan that includes converting 90 per cent of its meters to smart meters by 2035 and plans to reach net carbon zero by 2050 through renewable energy initiatives. Digitalisation equips water utilities with the resources to revolutionize their operations and future-proof their businesses, ensuring a sustainable, efficient, and resilient water supply for generations to come; nevertheless, utilities must foster this transformation to make the most of the limitless benefits cutting-edge technologies can provide.

Although digitalisation contributes to better decision-making and improving overall system efficiency, it also increases exposure to cyber risks, with cyberattacks expected to escalate in frequency, volume and sophistication. Yanir Laubshtein, VP of Velocity XDR at Sygnia, provides, in an in-depth interview, insights for global cybersecurity strategies, including integrating cybersecurity into organizational culture, understanding infrastructure interdependencies, and fostering public-private partnerships.

Digitalisation is a powerful tool that enhances efficiency, sustainability, and resilience in the water sector. By harnessing the potential of digital technologies, water companies can address climate change challenges effectively and pave the way for a more sustainable and water-secure future; however, a disruptive shift is needed at the core of water businesses to reap all of its benefits. 

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