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Member Spotlight

Barbara Hathaway, Technology Leader, Leakage Solutions – Ovarro

Ovarro is a global technology company that supports water companies with monitoring, control and management of their assets. It also works across oil & gas, broadcast and transportation sectors.

Can you elaborate on Ovarro’s vision to support a sustainable future for industries and communities around the world through connecting technologies? How do you see technology playing a role in achieving this goal?

Ovarro is a technological leader in instrumentation, software and solutions. We consist of different entities each with their own specialisation – RTUs for different end markets, site and asset SCADA software, data analysis tools, asset management and our leak detection solutions. With leakage reduction a priority for our water utility customers, developing new solutions is a major focus of our business.

Our vision is linking together all these technologies to create an end-to-end solution for our customers and in turn, their customers. We live in a data-rich world but water companies still have a way to go to get optimum value from the available data. At Ovarro, we are working on connecting all the dots to give the most value.

How has being a SWAN member helped to create and strengthen Ovarro’s utility partnerships such as with Anglian Water?

Partnerships with companies such as Anglian Water are the lifeblood of Ovarro. We thrive on the challenges set by our customers, which allow us to come up with innovative solutions. The success of our remote leak detection logger, Enigma3hyQ, is a result of close collaboration with Anglian Water. They approached us in 2017 with an idea to adapt existing technology by combining two products – a correlating noise logger and a site-based hydrophone. A collaborative development team was established with experts from both organisations to create the Enigma3hyQ system’s hardware and software elements.

The project, named Alliancing and Partnership Initiative of the Year at Water Industry Awards in 2021, shows what can be achieved when suppliers work in partnership with utilities, place high value on feedback and take their ideas forward.

Being a SWAN member gives us opportunities to build similar relationships and showcase our technologies to a large global network of organisations which we may not have had access to otherwise. The SWAN annual conference is a particularly valuable platform to share ideas and insights with the smart water community. Liaison between utilities, suppliers, innovators, academics and governments will be the only way to drive through new ideas at the rate we need.

View Ovarro’s case studies with Anglian Water on sewer pollution early-warning technology and leak detection.

Ovarro was recently featured in an article addressing cybersecurity challenges, what are some important tips for utilities to protect their critical infrastructure?

The most important tip is to stop and think. Before deploying, think about security risks and ask questions. Ovarro is ISO27K accredited and security is a top consideration in all product design. A common security faux pas is to not follow the advice on how to set up a new unit. Don’t rush to get something working and add security later – think about it from the beginning. Another big tip is to keep abreast of security patches. If a device says it needs a patch, then plan to do it. Putting it off to another day will only expose you to further risk.

Technology-wise, what direction is leakage reduction heading in?

The world population is increasing and with this, demand for water. Widespread loss through leaking pipes is no longer acceptable in the eyes of the public and regulators and water companies must ensure they get maximum efficiency out of their assets.

This urgency means companies are more willing to consider new ways of working. Globally, more and more utilities are adopting data-powered tools, which are transforming network management, positively impacting leakage targets and environmental performance. Products that apply artificial intelligence and machine learning, as well as cloud-based, as-a-service models, have become staples in the Ovarro portfolio.

By harnessing and transmitting this wealth of newly available data, companies can carry out strategic operational analysis to drive efficiencies and reduce cost. Ideally, in the future, the water sector should aim for near zero leakage. If we are to achieve such an ambitious goal, water utilities need to continue to invest in innovation, support new ideas and share findings.

Looking back on your career journey through the water sector, what is one piece of advice you received that you would like to pass on to young professionals just getting started on their journey?

I would say the most important advice to anyone is to remain humble. Humility allows us to listen to the viewpoints of others and not only centre on ourselves. In both our careers and our personal lives, it is important to allow space for other people and their opinions. It is ok to disagree but it is important to have understood all points of view.