Wagner Oliveira de Carvalho, Digital Twin Manager – AEGEA
AEGEA is the largest private sanitation company in Brazil. In each town it operates, it brings more health and life quality to the population.
As a “BIM Master” and Digital Twin Manager at AEGEA, you played a crucial role in creating Brazil’s largest 3D digital sanitation map. Can you share some insights about the challenges you encountered and the importance of digitizing asset management to improve sewerage coverage and access to clean water in Brazil?
We are all immensely proud at AEGEA of the world-renowned “Infra Inteligente” programme’s production of the greatest 3D map of sanitation in Brazil. There was no lack of challenges during each development phase of this major project. I believe that the most striking processes for us were during field visits, to capture the reality of each physical asset, especially in the simplest and most deprived areas such as the favelas (low income areas) of Rio de Janeiro. I had the privilege of going to some of these areas, and we were welcomed with open arms. As we continued our work with more advanced processes, such as drones and scanning equipment, I continued visualising the people’s faces. Our work strives to provide access to clean water and sewage coverage, bringing a new hope and improved quality of life for these people.
Working in developing regions like Brazil presents unique challenges and opportunities. As AEGEA aims to provide reliable, sustainable access to clean water for over 30 million people, how did you adapt your digitalisation strategies to suit the local context?
We have a very positive and optimistic view of the current challenge regarding the future of the approximately 500 municipalities we serve where more than 30 million people live. Despite the fact that many areas still do not have the availability of potable water and sewage coverage, we can say that we have been very successful in accelerating investments in coverage and provision of services by combining the Digital Twins of infrastructures and new projects applying the BIM methodology.
I invite smart water organisations to join us in this huge challenge in Brazil. Water and sanitation are top priorities in the country. There has been a federal legislature in recent years with a sanitation policy that establishes goals for universality and improvement in the provision of services, and the regulatory and institutional environment favors private capital investment in the expansion and modernisation of infrastructure.
The success of digital twins relies on effective collaboration. Can you elaborate on the key partnerships that AEGEA formed by being a long-time Member of the SWAN network?
Collaboration has really been the bridge to our evolution into digital twins for the water sector, and we at AEGEA are very much aligned with this purpose of the SWAN network. It is an honour for us to have been involved since the very beginning with SWAN. We can say that throughout this time, there have been countless conferences and interactions where we have been sharing challenges and forming partnerships with the most advanced organisations in the world of smart water, from technology providers, academia, specialists, regulators, and also other smart water utilities.
I would also like to highlight the SWAN Digital Twin Work Group, of which I had the honour of acting as co-leader for two years. We continue to evolve in applications with each new meeting with fellow specialists in the water sector.
What value do you see in gaining practical, field experience vs. pursuing a technical degree like BIM to help young water professionals advance in the smart water sector?
I am very grateful and happy with the trajectory I have built throughout my career. I greatly value all my technical and academic experiences in the water sector. In this sense, I recommend young water professionals to seek to take their experiences and practical challenges from field operations to research levels, in order to innovate in technological applications and methodologies that can contribute to current challenges, such as the Twin Transition approach that bring the digital and sustainability agendas together to improve digital function, drive sustainability goals and future-proof resilience.