Spanish digital transformation in the water sector
In the face of water scarcity and climate change, the digitalisation of the water cycle contributes by preserving resources through more efficient management and helping to reduce the carbon footprint and greenhouse gases generated by water cycle management activities. Spain is positioning itself as a world reference in the digitalisation of the integrated water cycle, after already being a leader in engineering, construction, and operation of large infrastructure.
Although there have been different industrial revolutions, none of them can be compared to the so-called Industrial Revolution 4.0, which entails a profound digital transformation of companies. It is not only about technological changes, but also about changes in the culture of the company, in the way we communicate, in the agility of organizations and even in the different strategies to be carried out.
And in a world where some 2 billion people live in water-stressed countries, the digital transformation of the water cycle has a major role to play.
The water sector cannot remain oblivious to the current digital transformation processes and the concrete benefits they bring, from greater efficiency in water and energy management at all levels (both in drinking water and sanitation systems and in terms of water resources with their multiple uses), to improved service quality and customer satisfaction, reduced carbon footprint and process sustainability.
Thanks to the use of technologies such as 5G, Big Data and Blockchain, which offer more and better information in real time, it is now possible to measure, understand and better control treatment, distribution and purification processes.
Faced with water scarcity and climate change, the digitalisation of the water cycle contributes in two ways: on the one hand, by preserving resources through more efficient management, and on the other hand, by helping to reduce the carbon footprint and greenhouse gases generated by water cycle management activities.
The technological revolution of the last few years has led to digital tools with lower costs and increased computing power
In this regard, Jorge Helmbrecht, Business Development Manager at Idrica, said at the UPM Water Digital Meeting at the Polytechnic University of Madrid, held at the end of October last year: "Digitalisation is key to the conservation of water resources, to help decision-making and to improve demand management".
Digitalization in the water sector has been implemented for a long time, but the technological revolution of the last few years has led to digital tools with lower costs and increased computing power.
Challenges such as rising customer expectations, evolving technologies, increasing competition, increasing regulatory pressures and ageing infrastructure are driving water providers to become digital organizations.
Business opportunities are emerging both in countries with low technological maturity as well as in technologically advanced countries
In this context, the digital transformation in the water sector has enormous potential, both in Spain and globally. Business opportunities in the digitalisation of the water cycle are emerging in areas such as: remote reading, IoT, connectivity, platforms, digital twins, artificial intelligence, monitoring and efficiency of water networks, Metaverse, cybersecurity, smart asset management, geographic information systems, etc., and both in countries with low technological maturity as well as in technologically advanced countries.
Spanish companies, world leaders in the water sector, are not oblivious to these challenges, aware that the sector has enormous potential, both in Spain and globally, due to the challenges we face in terms of sustainability, extreme phenomena, and climate change.
Digital transformation in Spain
With some of the largest companies operating worldwide, Spain is positioning itself as a world reference in the digitalisation of water
One of the greatest opportunities that exist in this path towards the digital transformation of the water sector in Spain and the increase of the capacity of Spanish companies is the approval of the policies for economic recovery and transformation (PERTE NEXT Generation European Funds).
The main objective of this project is to promote the use of new information technologies in the integrated water cycle, and it is expected to mobilize 3,060 million euros in public and private investment over the coming years, supported by European recovery funds.
In addition to promoting the implementation of digital solutions by utilities, the PERTE will certainly encourage the growth of the existing large ecosystem of companies, including utilities, technology companies, equipment companies, hardware manufacturers (meters, sensors, etc.), telecommunications companies, etc.
All the technology, experience and knowledge acquired over the years in more advanced sectors in terms of digitalisation or in the water sector itself and, above all, the combination of both capacities is enabling Spanish companies to position themselves in this sector.
In this context, Spanish companies are driving the sector forward, adapting the whole range of solutions to market demands.
Undoubtedly, Spain has great potential to accelerate the process of digital transformation in the water sector worldwide
Spain has now some of the largest companies operating worldwide and many technological SMEs, and is positioning itself as a world reference in the digitalisation of the integrated water cycle, after already being a leader in engineering, construction and operation of large infrastructure.
Moreover, Spain has a proven track record in international R&D&I projects, such as H2020. In this sense, bringing together science, technology and innovation, and increasing the exchange of knowledge between corporations, academia, and companies to accelerate the implementation of technological solutions is key to making the most of synergies.
Undoubtedly, Spain has great potential to accelerate the process of digital transformation in the water sector worldwide, and successful results are already being observed not only in Spain but in many other parts of the world.