GoAigua is a pioneer in the digitalization of the water world, providing innovative services and solutions for the management of the integral cycle. Its IoT and Big Data platform has recently received the prestigious Aquatech Innovation Award 2019, which distinguishes the most innovative solutions, products and services, in the category of Control Technology and Process Automation.
We talked to Miguel Ángel Ayllón, Chief Operating Officer of GoAigua, to learn more about the company's technological solutions.
Question: Firstly, we would like to know briefly your career path and your current role in GoAigua.
Answer: Since I started my professional career, in one way or another I have been linked to the water sector. Firstly, in the university environment where I had my first contact with hydraulic modelling and collaborated several times with Global Omnium, the water management company of the city of Valencia. Afterwards, I joined the engineering department, where I have been working for almost 17 years, being responsible for different areas: hydraulic analysis, DMAs and planning of supply systems; design and construction of drinking water treatment systems; electromechanical and automation installations... assuming the functions of manager for the drinking water area in my last stage. From here, I recently moved to GoAigua to lead the engineering division.
Q: What are the biggest challenges facing the water sector today?
A: The crises we have recently experienced and are still experiencing, both from an economic and environmental point of view, force us to be efficient in the management of an increasingly scarce resource for a population that has grown in the last century as never before.
Luckily, my work has allowed me to participate in different international projects and I have experienced first-hand how the needs in each region of the world are very different. Nevertheless, I believe that all these challenges have a common factor, which is to achieve efficiency in the management of these previously mentioned needs. These shortages are due to the scarcity of resources in some areas, floods in others, the lack of investment in infrastructures, operational inefficiency of facilities, the absence of management, or the lack of an appropriate regulatory framework…
These shortages are due to the scarcity of resources in some areas, floods in others, the lack of investment in infrastructures
Q: How do you think the new technologies can contribute to face these challenges?
A: I believe that knowledge, experience and technology are the key to facing these challenges. The lack of one of these understandings can make us “lame”. And since you're asking me about technology, I think it's taking on an increasingly important role. In the past, technology was only used as a data facilitating tool, but now it is present in the tools that allow us to manage this data and turn it into useful information. In addition, it allows us to carry out a detailed analysis in order to acquire knowledge and offers us decision-making tools, turning knowledge into intelligence.
In some cases, technology should play a less relevant role, but in other cases, especially those related to efficiency in operation and decision-making in certain areas, technology becomes increasingly relevant. And here, linking it to the previous question, I believe that there is a very important challenge that all those involved in the water sector, especially utilities and operators, will have to face, which is none other than to tackle the cultural change that will result from conceding greater relevance to technology in this decision-making process.
Q: Could you tell us a bit about GoAigua’s technological solutions?
A: GoAigua is a technology company focused on the water industry that differentiates itself by being the result of the successful digital transformation of Global Omnium. This means that all our experience and knowledge have been reflected in the technological solutions that we offer and that first arose to respond to Global Omnium’s needs. Nonetheless, now they have been made public and can be used by any company of the sector thanks to their universal and agnostic (independent of suppliers and manufactures) character. Our ability to join technology and services is what gives us our added value in areas such as leak detection, the study and implementation of smart metering solutions or the commercial water cycle, to mention a few examples.
GoAigua’s technology solutions drive efficiency in areas such as drinking water, sanitation, purification and irrigation through a modular and scalable structure, which is flexible enough to adapt to the needs of any type of organization. Our solutions provide a single management point for the integral water cycle: infrastructure operation, hydraulic and NRW efficiency management, smart metering, work order management, commercial cycle, CRM, asset management and infrastructure planning, maps, etc.
Q: Aquatech chose GoAigua's IoT and Big Data platform as the most innovative solution to control and automate processes in the water industry. Can you tell us about the platform?
A: GoAigua's IoT and Big Data Platform stands out in the market as an end-to-end solution that allows us to offer solutions for any water utility in terms of operation, maintenance and management.
One of the aspects taken into account by the Aquatech jury regarding our platform is that GoAigua is capable of ingesting and integrating data from different sources and treating them as if they came from the same source, which places our platform in an advantageous position compared to the rest, as it allows for centralised management of existing systems, avoiding ad-hoc solutions that have to be operated in an isolated and independent manner. This allows the operator to choose the best solution from all the alternatives offered by the market for each specific case.
Another important aspect is that the information that the platform gathers from sensors, processes and corporate systems (GIS, ERP, work order manager, etc.) is collected in a single point. The information coexists in a common data environment, which allows it to be shared between the different processes and by the various management tools offered by the platform, on which we apply algorithms and artificial intelligence, allowing processes to be automated.
GoAigua is capable of ingesting and integrating data from different sources and treating them as if they came from the same source
Crossing this data is of great value and allows us to handle different use cases through GoAigua's technological solutions. For example, the management of hydraulic efficiency in Global Omnium is carried out by a small group of engineers using a single tool. They are able to manage more than 300 supplies, 17,000 kilometers of pipelines, 2,400 sectors... This is possible because on all the information that we receive from the sector entry meters, pressure transducers, SCADAs, hydraulic models or intelligent meters, among other sources, we apply algorithms in order to take into account the demand forecast based on historical consumption, weather forecast, day of the week, current consumption, etc. allowing us to establish dynamic thresholds on the minimum flow rate at night, for example, greatly improving the detection and management of network leaks.
In addition, we have carried out an effective system integration, so that after the detection of a leak, a warning is generated which we can classify according to its importance by taking into account different criteria related to the volume of water leaked, cost, CO2 emissions into the atmosphere from the water leak, etc... and based on the strategy set in each area, we can prioritize the action of the operators in the field. The system automatically generates a work order in which the priority and search area for the leak is indicated and, once it has been located, the operator updates the status of the incident using the mobility solutions and the system automatically launches and plans the work order corresponding to the repair. The system also allows customers who will be affected by the repair work to be notified in advance via the mobile app. This greater efficiency makes it possible to reduce repair and leak detection times, which means saving millions of cubic meters of water, and to improve citizen service, reducing the number of service-related complaints. In 2018, some 14,000 leaks were detected and repaired, saving approximately 8 Hm3 of water.
In 2018, some 14,000 leaks were detected and repaired, saving approximately 8 Hm3 of water.
Q: What do you think is the future of smart water technology?
A: Currently, companies that manage public services operate in isolation. The information generated by businesses that manage water, electricity, transport, communications, etc. is stored and managed in silos. In the future, this information will be shared by the different suppliers with the aim of providing a better service to citizens and achieving a more efficient operation. It will be relatively easy to detect fraud by combining information from water, gas or electricity supplies, or to adapt the regulation of hydraulic systems based on the behaviour patterns of the population, information that we will obtain from transport systems and social networks.
Going further, this stream of data will allow engineers to further optimise the design of supply, sanitation or water treatment systems, as designs will be made on the basis of certainties rather than design hypotheses.