The water industry is changing more rapidly than seen before thanks to the digitalisation of operations. As water infrastructure modernisation gains momentum both from recent government funding bill announcements as well as remote monitoring prominence post-COVID, utilities are looking for ways to acquire meaningful insights that will enable them to meet regulatory targets, respond faster to emergencies, maintain reliable and high-quality water operations, and limit customer complaints.
Traditional approaches to driving smart water adoption have relied on outdated and/or ineffective procurement policies, often limiting technology and innovation to large utilities with extensive capital budgets. For water utilities, finding new approaches to data-backed water management such as Data-as-a-Service (DaaS) can enable operators to accelerate their adoption with a low-risk profile.
Rather than older, traditional systems that require high up-front costs and investments in complex infrastructure with extensive labor commitment, DaaS seeks to streamline automation, encourage integration with existing systems, and promote real-time smart water applications by shifting the technology adoption risk from the customer to the solution provider, thus allowing for a joint, aligned vision to realise mutual success. With DaaS, high CAPEX costs and internal personnel demands are reduced as the solution provider’s value is measured based on their ability to perform based on their area of specialisation, whether the outcome is a water quality report or a flow monitoring system.
DaaS, which can take the form of a sole or hybrid format, requires little-to-no upfront fees and ideally a long-term agreement between the customer and the provider. Agreements should be made and measured based on results/outcomes received and quickly discontinued if the organisation is not experiencing expected results to justify the continued relationship. It’s truly based on performance and a built relationship between the utility and the solution provider.
The DaaS Value Proposition
DaaS can address core water and wastewater management needs and provide for flexibility in adapting to change. Below are some of the main benefits:
- No Equipment Costs or Responsibilities. DaaS provides all instrumentation, communications infrastructure, and cloud hosting and storage without capital expense or support responsibilities.
- Reduce Internal Personnel Burden. Fully automated DaaS solutions help operators eliminate the time and expense of manually managing technology installation.
- No Separate Communication Costs or Responsibilities. A true cloud-based DaaS solution includes all connectivity — cellular, long-range WiFi, or Ethernet — at no extra cost, regardless of the volume or frequency of data transmission.
- No/Reduced Maintenance Costs. Automated DaaS offerings promote consistent accuracy without requiring any in-house labor commitment. Under a lease agreement, DaaS can also eliminate labor and surcharges related to initial installation, consumables replenishment, and regularly scheduled maintenance services.
- No Hidden Support Costs. A comprehensive DaaS solution will also include behind-the-scenes support needed to deliver better insights. This includes secure, role-based access for unlimited users within a single organisation, consumables, replacement parts, warranties, software upgrades, continuing monitoring, and ongoing support.
- Added Value and Flexibility. An enterprise-grade DaaS platform provides added value well beyond the monitoring metrics of day-to-day operations. Intelligent data analytics complemented by real-time alerts, location-based mapping, automated compliance reporting, and interoperability with existing resources avoid the limitations of siloed data systems and make leveraging measurement insights easier and more complete.
The greatest potential of DaaS is its versatility for supporting innovative, cost-effective new data collection and analysis capabilities. This is where water operators stand to benefit the most from early adoption of this exciting digital transformation.