A few days ago, the city of Miami hosted the SWAN Forum’s 9th annual conference under the slogan “Navigating the Smart Water Journey: from leadership to results.”
The event welcomed over 340 attendees from 20 countries, and it has confirmed to be one of the most relevant meeting points for exchanging ideas and presenting innovative solutions related to Smart Water and Digital Transformation in the sector.
The SWAN 2019 Conference promoted an interesting conversation on a variety of topics involving Operational Resilience, AI for wastewater, IT/OT alignment, and much more, supported by the presence of 48 unique water utilities, bringing their own smart technology adoption experience along their Digital Transformation path.
Thanks to the international character of the event, besides US utilities testimonies, water leaders of different countries brought their experience, like Hamilton Amadeo, CEO of AEGEA (Brazil) who shared how Digital Water has been an impulse for social transformation in his country.WatEner itself contributed bringing the experience of the German drinking water utility Stadtwerke Karlsruhe (SKWA), with a presentation held by our Sales Director Jose María Boutin Mesa, within the panel “Unlocking Value from Big Data” of the Smart Water Track moderated by Aqaix’s CEO Michael Gardner.
The presentation detailed SWKA’s journey concerning the adoption of smart water technologies to solve a particular challenge, the obstacles encountered along the way and, how they uncovered further global challenges. The speech was supported by the video interview of the Head of Drinking Water Division of Stadtwerke Karlsruhe, Prof. Dr. Matthias Maier, speaking about the results of the implementation of the web platform WatEner.
These and many more interesting topics and testimonials were discussed during the two days conference counting on the presence of some of the most important leading actors in the water sector.
Although there have been considerable advances on the path towards the adoption of new technologies, there are still different obstacles that contribute to slow down the process, and many of them are related to the natural aversion to risk and the sector´s conservative culture.
“Human-driven resistance” was coined by Carla Reid, general manager and CEO of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) as the name of one of the biggest obstacles water utilities are facing, and to address such issue, she recommended the water utility leaders to educate, collaborate and advocate.
Another widely shared perspective emerging from the conference was that digital transformation adoption might uncover new challenges and new definitions as the concept of “Infobesity” mentioned by Hardeep Anand Deputy Director of Capital Improvement Program of Miami-Dade Water & Sewer Department in his welcome speech.
As a recap of the most pressing challenges for water utilities on the Smart Water Journey, the conference poll showed their concern about network efficiency, performance and customer service improvement and infrastructural issues. As a conclusion, we understand that water utilities are facing a very slow adoption of smart technology, and the role of technology companies is crucial to support more agile adoption.