Thanks to public policies to promote the data economy that enhance the technological modernisation of infrastructures and supply networks, the water sector has a clear opportunity to improve the services provided by the urban water cycle management companies.
At Agbar we are focusing our efforts on developing highly resilient systems, capable of providing water in quality and quantity for different needs: agriculture, industry and cities. We are doing this through Dinapsis, the network of digital transformation hubs for water management, environmental health and the ecological transition of the territory.
At the Dinapsis centres we develop new solutions combining expert knowledge with new digital technologies, seeking to optimise environmental management. This combination is what we call operational intelligence, and is applied to various fields such as the remote reading of water consumption, the digital transformation of treatment plants, or the contribution to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda, among others.
All of this, guaranteeing data security (availability, integrity and confidentiality) through prevention, cybersecurity, commitment to responsible data management and a governance model that safeguards data quality.
This strategy is part of Agbar's commitment to sustainable development and innovation, and of its ongoing commitment to digital transformation and the digitisation of processes to streamline management and continue moving towards circular growth models that are more environmentally friendly.
The data economy in Agbar's digital transformation strategy
Climate change, the main challenge we face as a society, has a direct implication for water management. Rising temperatures alter rainfall patterns and increase the frequency of extreme weather events, both in the form of torrential rainfall and drought episodes.
More and more territories - our country clearly among them - will be vulnerable to droughts and water scarcity.
For all these reasons, we in the water sector are focusing our efforts on developing highly resilient systems, capable of providing water in quality and quantity for different needs: agriculture, industry and cities.
The application of technology to water management is essential to meet this challenge. At Agbar, we are committed to the incorporation of new technologies and the data economy, which, together with advanced knowledge of the operation, allows us to completely transform the management of the water and environmental cycle, increasing efficiency in the provision of these services and improving the performance of all the assets that form part of the infrastructures, with the aim of being able to guarantee supply in this context of growing water stress.
We are in a process of water transition that will have to be accompanied by an eco-digital transformation in water management, in which data management is a key element for its success.
Dinapsis Digital Transformation Hubs in Spain
To this end, Agbar is promoting the creation of the Dinapsis digital transformation hubs, and already has 9 of them throughout Spain.
In addition, they are committed to co-creation and alliances to establish synergies, applying the knowledge acquired and collective creativity. The Dinapsis hubs thus make it possible to scale and adapt digital solutions to the real needs of each territory in terms of sustainable water management, the environment and environmental health, facilitating optimal resource management.
"The Dinapsis network deploys benchmark digital solutions for the digital transformation of water management and the environmental health of territories, promoting the development of smart, resilient and green cities".
From these centres we develop new solutions combining expert knowledge with new digital technologies, seeking to optimise environmental management. This combination is what we call operational intelligence. The Dinapsis hubs, whether for water cycle activity, for cities or for industry, draw on the diversity and volume of data stored over several decades, as well as Agbar's experience in processing them to calibrate each and every one of the artificial intelligence algorithms we apply.
As an example, it is worth mentioning that in the water networks we manage we have a high level of sensorisation (there are more than 6,000,000 connected IoT objects), generating and managing some 15 terabytes of data daily. Another relevant aspect to highlight is the contribution of Agbar's data economy to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda, through Agbar's Dinapsis Environmental Indicators Platform: a tool to support the digitisation of the Spanish Urban Agenda in the municipalities that implement it. This platform, which is fed by satellite information processed with specific algorithms, facilitates decision-making and is a key tool for improving the environmental health and habitability of the territories.
Through digitalisation, it is possible to measure and continuously monitor the positive or negative impacts generated by the different lines of action of the Urban Agendas of our cities and, therefore, to calibrate or redirect their objectives when the effect is not as expected. These digital Urban Agendas will facilitate a kind of benchmarking process between different cities with similar characteristics, contributing directly to sharing best practices and, therefore, to accelerating the processes of green and ecological transition towards a true scenario of sustainability.
More than 250 automated indicators allow the public manager to have the data always updated and on the same platform, facilitating a constant verification of the level of compliance with the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda, which allows planning and/or improving infrastructures; defining sustainability strategies (Smart City); designing the Spanish Urban Agenda for the municipality; improving access to Next Generation Funds; meeting the environmental commitments set by the European Union; and demonstrating good environmental management to the public.
Another essential aspect is prevention. The digital data collection and processing systems with which we operate are essential to ensure maximum efficiency of action in the face of possible climate crises in cities. Thus, thanks to the data provided and processed in real time, the authorities have all the information they need to make the best decisions. The operational intelligence of Dinapsis' solutions is essential to create resilient cities, capable of withstanding crisis episodes.
In all its different aspects, Dinapsis is part of Agbar's commitment to sustainable development and innovation, and its ongoing commitment to digital transformation and the digitisation of processes to streamline management and continue moving towards circular growth models that are more respectful of the environment.
Secure, unified, accessible and open data
Ensuring data security is a key factor in building the Digital Economy. And data security is based on prevention: data is increasingly decentralised and security must always go hand in hand with data. Perimeter measures are no longer enough; cybersecurity must be based on identity and protection from the point of access to it.
The development of the Data Economy implies great challenges in terms of cybersecurity that require the protection of the information processed, stored and transported by the systems, and the treatment of threats. Establishing mechanisms for securing storage and monitoring transition channels through the controlled management of permissions and access keys are essential to prevent data loss, malicious access, unauthorised use and data corruption.
Agbar has protocols and a cybersecurity plan that guarantees the availability, integrity and confidentiality of data. It is prepared to identify and respond to cyber-attacks. When it comes to personal data, data protection is not a one-off action. It is an ongoing commitment of the organisation to responsible data management, with compliance with standards in a constant evolution towards the protection of individuals' privacy in the new context of data relationships.
The current regulatory framework at European level in the field of personal data protection, consisting of the European Data Protection Regulation and the National Organic Law on Data Protection, is based on a proactive or "risk-based approach" that is deployed in a preventive manner with a very precise purpose: to guarantee the rights and freedoms of data subjects from the definition of a processing activity to its further development. And, to this end, an important principle to bear in mind: that of "Privacy by design and by default". Agbar has assimilated privacy and data protection principles as the default mode of operation within its business model and from the conception of any type of processing in a clear commitment to the long-term trust of its customers.
Agbar has protocols and a cybersecurity plan that guarantees the availability, integrity and confidentiality of data.
Another of the key pieces of the data economy at Agbar is the governance model that regulates the processes, procedures, roles and responsibilities within the scope of data management. Agbar's data management environment brings those responsible for each area closer to the management and treatment of data with an active role in the creation of products and services through a datahub: a centralised repository that systematically allows the extraction, modelling, storage and distribution of activity data, in which having continuously updated data in an analytical space allows the integrated management of data independently of the operational systems that create them. Data management involves the expansion of specialised roles and professions in the organisation: managing its ownership, quality, privacy, as well as rethinking the data lifecycle through corporate processes. These include the functions of the data steward (guardian of the quality of the information) and the data owner (specialist reference in the process or field in question).
In this process of Agbar's digital transformation, a firm commitment has been made to the implementation of AGILE methodologies in the creation of any service and process of the organisation.
The participation of data user units in all phases of data design, development and exploitation together with technical teams (developers and specialists such as Data Scientists or Data Architects) has allowed the implementation of new methodologies and much more efficient processes also improving data quality and access and security policies.
This data governance and management model provides a single, near real-time source of facts before they are processed from all the organisation's internal and external systems and processes, facilitating the creation of dashboards, analytical models, artificial intelligence algorithms, digital twins and decision support systems models from the raw data.
Data scientists, in turn, have a simple system for quickly accessing data for research and building new models, training machine learning algorithms and building digital models.
Data governance and management model
This approach to data management at Agbar allows for the following:
- Single source of events disaggregated from operational processes and obtained on a continuous basis.
- A complete data model of the entire organisation relating data to each other at a high level of granularity.
- A platform for the development and delivery of data products and services accessible to internal and external users.
- An environment to audit and manage data quality, define usage policies and have processes in place to ensure and improve data quality.
- The availability of frequently updated indicators for decision making in any organisation and process.
Thus, Datahub becomes a source of data consumption with a transversal function to which all Agbar professionals have access to improve decision-making in their management area. And it is also a viewing window open to customer administrations. It is for this reason that each use case included in the platform has data and indicators that can be analysed at different granularities that respond to the level of detail required for each decision making. These levels of visualisation can be summarised as follows:
- Visualisation Level 1 - Operational: At this level, the indicators necessary for a service manager and his team to facilitate the correct management of their installation or activity are displayed. At this level we can have the maximum granularity and temporality of the data and indicators, for example, granularity of analysis by asset and with hourly or immediate analysis timeframes.
- Visualisation Level 2 - Tactical: This level displays the indicators necessary for a manager of several facilities with aggregated information on them. It allows adequate on-line supervision of the operational status of each of the facilities managed, with emphasis on the main management indicators.
- Visualisation Level 3 - Strategic: This level displays the most relevant indicators that management needs to know in order to monitor the good operational status of all facilities.
The detail is even less detailed than level 2, focusing on indicators that carry a higher risk or management cost.
This evolution of the organisation to take charge of the data and its value contributes progressively to the optimisation of processes and the obtaining of new values that have not been exploited until now. Furthermore, all technological and process-level advances need to be accompanied by appropriate change management, given that people are an essential part of the company's transformation process. To this end, Agbar applies initiatives that promote a work philosophy in teams based on the application of continuous improvement dynamics (lean management applied to operations), so that good visual and indicator-based management practices are naturally integrated into the daily routines of the teams. At the same time, they are a fundamental mechanism for involving all staff in the continuous improvement cycle, capitalising on talent through the generation of ideas for improvement that are incorporated into action plans, and from which feedback is given to the teams. In this way, the continuous improvement cycle is kept alive and active, while at the same time facilitating, organising and optimising the activity of the services provided.