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March 28, 2014
Water utilities: Can they use analytics for smart monitoring?
By: Jean-Marc Ollagnier

“Anytime, anywhere” is the mantra for all utilities consumers today, and providers must adopt a holistic approach to determining where to focus on in consumer satisfaction. Accenture estimates that over the next five years, disruptive changes could put additional pressure on utilities’ economic models. As consumption and costs rise, utilities will have to increasingly grapple with reliability, safety and security of supply challenges. Alongside, consumer awareness and demand for sustainability will require an enhanced ability to manage and measure use. Does water, gas or electricity supply, then, need to get smarter?

It does. Utilities will need to respond to disruptive changes by building new capabilities as well as extracting more value from existing aging assets. With the rise of analytics, utilities face a great opportunity to become information-driven—to derive insights that can fundamentally change decision models, performance insights and processes to drive greater value. What utilities need now—and indeed many have already started acting on this—is smart, committed use of data analytics to turn information into valuable, actionable intelligence.

Take the recent case where Accenture Analytics is helping a large water utility unearth the benefits of smart monitoring—exploring intelligent use of real time data to monitor assets as an efficient way to deliver the quality of service customers expect. Accenture is essentially helping the company create a single view of its operating systems and assets, such as pipe and treatment facilities, to enable more efficient water sourcing and remote monitoring of assets. The information and data will help the utility anticipate equipment failures and flexibly respond in near real-time to a range of critical situations, such as demand fluctuations, leaks, frauds or adverse weather events.

Using Accenture Smart Grid Services, tests will be conducted at various company sites to assess how integrating business systems with operations technologies will help. The convergence of a wide range of digital technologies used to manage its infrastructure is expected to significantly improve the utility’s ability to manage the performance of its assets. The initial tests will also provide the company with a clear framework for the efficiency benefits that can be realized through these data insights.

Water utilities have much to learn from their counterparts in electricity and gas in demand management and smart metering as well as setting up smart grids, but they are catching up fast. Indeed, intelligent water infrastructure may be here more quickly than many of us realize.

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