Tell Me, Please: What is Digital Water?

12 Aug 2018  |  Steph Aldock

Water, or more accurately the water industry, is going digital. The impacts are far-reaching, influencing utility operations, maintenance, and capital investments in solutions for everything from leaking pipes to water quality.

It doesn’t matter what you call it: “the digitization of water”, “Digital Water”, “Smart Water”, “Water IoT”, or “Big Data for Water”. In all cases, it applies to using data-driven solutions to solve age old infrastructure problems — options that were unavailable ten years ago.

From Asset Management to remote leak detection to smart meters to artificial intelligence it’s a new world for the water industry. Just look at what’s happened so far in 2018:

  • New market entrants are making large investments in Digital Water: Kurita, a Japanese Chemical Company acquired Fracta, a Silicon-Valley Based company focused on artificial intelligence and machine learning for water utilities for US$37 Million.
  • Leading water companies are investing heavily in digital capabilities: Xylem, a market leader in Smart Water made two additional acquisitions in the first half of 2018. The water pure-play added EmNet and Valor Water Analytics, and created a new Advanced Infrastructure Analytics division.
  • Leak Detection and Smart Meters have been prioritized among 177 “smart” water projects so far this year. Permanent deployments of fixed-network acoustic leak detection sensors are scaling rapidly in the United Kingdom — which is seeing pushback from it’s regulator Ofwat.
  • Technology and communications companies are investing in water for the first time, reshaping the competitive landscape: Comcast is investing in smart water through its partnership with Neptune Technology. Other telecoms, from the likes of AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon, are poised for growth as smart cities proliferate, globally.
  • And it’s not just in the US or Europe. Sub-Saharan Africa nations Burundi, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda each announced significant plans to deploy smart water meters to improve non-revenue water metrics and water supply services for their urban citizens. Itron secured contracts in Rwanda and Burundi, while Kamstrup will work with Ghana’s Ministry of Water and Sanitation.
  • Alexa, pay my water bill. Water customers will increasingly take notice of ”digital water”. Amazon’s virtual assistant can already order takeout or check the weather, and in select cities, Alexa already communicates with the local water utility.

These broader changes raise a number of critical questions, including: Which technologies will make the most impact? Which business models will be the most effective? What are the size of key market segments? What company is ripe for acquisition?

Bluefield Research believes, and the market has re-affirmed, that data-driven solutions will play a significant role in this sector going forward. This is precisely why we just launched a new Digital Water Insight service. So, don’t miss the boat — advance your water strategy.

Contact us to learn more (