Johnny Gunneng, CEO – InfoTiles
InfoTiles has its origin in between the fjords of Norway but extends far beyond Scandinavia. In short, InfoTiles simplifies and automates the tedious steps of consolidating data, applying real time analytics and machine learning so water utilities can turn insights into actions and benefit from more efficient, sustainable operations. Be like water and feel free to reach out for a glass of tap water.
How can water utilities harness the power of data and AI analytics to optimise their operations and improve service delivery to customers?
The real strength in leveraging digital water technologies lies in the usability of a central data platform and its capacity to model, visualise, and present data across all assets and operations, accessible to all relevant personnel to develop the capacity to work smarter.
For example, through our platform, we can capture existing and new data that shows the likelihood of critical failures in water and wastewater infrastructure and resources, including:
- Inflow & Infiltration Monitoring and Predictive Maintenance: real-time monitor wastewater pumps and analyses the system’s response to weather conditions. This can enable them to facilitate instant responses and improve the resilience of water networks.
- Leak Detection: identify the location of leaks and take action to repair them quickly. This can help conserve water resources and reduce wastage.
- Smart Water Meters: predict water demand patterns. This can help them optimise their water supply and distribution networks, reduce operational costs and ensure adequate supply during peak demand periods.
- Asset Optimisation: By analysing data on equipment performance, maintenance history, and other parameters, water utilities can identify opportunities to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and extend asset lifespan.
- Alerting/Early warnings: predictive models provide early risk alerts. This enables water utilities to take immediate preventative action and improve the performance and resilience of water networks.
By leveraging the power of data and AI, water utilities can enhance their operational efficiency, reduce costs, and ensure sustainable water for everyone today, tomorrow and in the future.
As we face more severe weather events than ever before, how critical are early detection systems and how do you begin this process/journey?
Droughts throughout the summer of 2022, and the devastating floods in some regions of Europe only a year earlier, have demonstrated the need for digital water technologies that can help utilities and municipalities become more resilient. Water-use evaluation and reduction, flood management and response, catchment health, and asset management are all operations where digital data collection and analysis can help deliver much more robust systems for water, people, and the environment.
We have been collaborating with municipalities in Norway to create synergies across all these critical areas, which can be managed from a single, centralised platform, accessed remotely. Sensors are placed at strategically significant points to collect water quality data, including water level, nutrient content, and soil humidity. Combined with publicly available weather data from national meteorological agencies, such as rainfall and temperature, new insights can be harnessed for water managers. This approach has the potential to go much further, capturing not only data from a single river location, but across a whole catchment. Capture and analysis of such data will prove invaluable in reducing, and even preventing, major damage and supply interruptions caused by unpredictable flood events.
Machine-learning is also being used to combine the whole catchment data with meteorological data. This type of artificial intelligence allows software applications to become more accurate at predicting outcomes over time, without being explicitly programmed to do so. You can learn more about how these models are being applied in a Lillestrøm, Norway case study on the SWAN Knowledge Hub.
This system is being applied in the city of Lillestrøm, Norway, on the River Leira, which poses a high risk of flooding and requires a swift response to avoid major structural damage and breakdown of public amenities. With data gathered through InfoTiles’ platform contributing towards the development of early-warning systems, the municipality can mobilise first responders more effectively and plan closures of integral bridges and release warming announcements in a timely way.
By forecasting river behaviour and tracking levels to within a 50mm accuracy, authorities can gauge flood risk and see how it evolves in real-time. They can also predict more accurately when it might occur 6 –12 hours ahead of time, and what type of response is required.
View InfoTile’s Lillestrøm case study on Turning Water Data into Actions through AI Analytics.
How does the accuracy and reliability of machine learning enabled sewer monitoring optimisation compare to traditional methods of sewer monitoring and I&I detection?
For many utilities and municipalities, inflow and infiltration can account for an average of 20-50 per cent of the annual flow in sewers, however, during snowmelt and wet autumns the figure can hit 80-90 per cent. Increases in the frequency and intensity of rainfall as a result of a changing climate is exacerbating the problem, making the wastewater network ever more vulnerable to failure and putting the environment at greater risk.
In Norway, our digital water and wastewater management system is being used by one municipality for I&I water detection and real-time monitoring of extraneous water in sewer networks and is already reducing service failures.
Using InfoTiles SCADA control system data together with meteorological data and machine learning technologies to consolidate new and existing data, operators discovered that pumps were pushing 5 million m3 of wastewater through the systems per year, of which at least 1 million m3 was water from I&I. The extra operating cost to the utility in processing this extraneous wastewater was up to €2 million, not including the energy cost of transporting the water to the treatment works. As operational costs increase and the need to save energy is paramount, utilities must calculate and understand the true cost of I&I like never before.
What is the importance of partnerships in your day-to-day work and in driving greater impact on the water sector?
In the water sector, partnerships are especially important given the complex and interconnected nature of water issues. After establishing itself in Norway, we are now making significant progress with water utilities in the UK, Germany, Denmark, and Sweden, encouraging the active use of digital software to meet the fast-changing demands of digital transformation in water.
In the near future, it will be the norm for all water utilities, wherever they are in the world, to have digitally transformed to some extent. The good news is that the digital water technologies needed to tackle the challenges of today are already here. Additionally, the learnings from those forward-thinking water utilities and governments embracing these innovations, can help realise universal access to safe drinking water much more rapidly.
What advice can you share with young professionals forging their paths in the smart water sector?
For young people who are passionate about water management and sustainability, the smart water industry offers many exciting opportunities. Young professionals could influence the industry by staying up to speed on the latest technologies, developing multidisciplinary skills and expertise, and building a diverse network to solve complex water challenges. In summary, never stop asking “why” and challenge the status quo.