Second water monograph | Alfredo Alonso

This year, in particular, Tracasa Global has concentrated on processes relating to network and facility maintenance centres of particular relevance to water companies, as they directly affect the water supply to the public.

It is a fact that geographic information systems (GIS/GIS) have positioned themselves as the backbone and unifying tools for water managers, bringing a "giscentric" vision to companies. Through these systems, companies are able to inventory, manage and integrate ever-increasing volumes of information. This evolution comes hand in hand with the digital transformation of the sector and advances in the sensorisation of infrastructures. All of this, with the ultimate goal of more efficient and effective management of the treasure they administer: water.

Generally speaking, the GIS offer solutions to numerous problems within the sector, but with these lines I would like to focus on the help they provide in field operations and sectorisation.

The companies that manage the full water cycle manage assets of different characteristics and geographically dispersed, a complex asset base that runs above and below ground, in both urban and rural environments, which ultimately allows them to manage water supply and sanitation networks and respond to customers' needs.

Geographic information systems (GIS/GIS) have positioned themselves as backbone tools for water managers.

For the management of all assets, geographic information systems are critical systems, both in the office and in the field, where digital transformation allows optimising numerous operations in a timely manner. In this sense, mobile applications that allow field teams to access, collect and edit data are at the heart of this transformation, helping companies to:

  • Make it easy for field teams to navigate and locate assets.
  • Automatically collect data, taking into account location and time of capture.
  • Access information from the system, reducing the need to return to the office for additional data.
  • Send real time data information to the system to facilitate decision making.
  • Provide real-time information for the entire organisation.

Following this approach to facilitate the organisation of work and maintain high data integrity, Tracasa Global has developed numerous applications. Among them, a web application that allows managers and team leaders to manage the work carried out by operators in the field from their offices. The tool divides the work into daily tasks, prioritises them, orders them and allows them to be viewed on a map with all the associated information.

Tracasa Global has developed an application that allows team managers to manage the work carried out by operators in the field from their offices and another solution so that operators can see the tasks assigned from the office.

On the other hand, we have also developed an application for mobile devices so that operators working in the field can see the tasks assigned from the office with the application described above. This application also allows operators to manage tasks and incidents, collect data, allocate hours and make work reports.

In general, our applications are continuously evolving and constitute a very important milestone in the digitalisation of the processes of water companies' network and facilities maintenance centres.

On the other hand, as regards the sectorisation of networks or, in other words, dividing the network in order to operate more easily and thus facilitate the identification of problems and improve the speed in the application of corrective measures, the final objective is focused on reducing non-recorded water, i.e. losses or leaks, improving hydraulic performance and control over parameters that affect water quality.

In this area, both sectorisation and the design of network sectors require the use of geographic information systems (GIS), equipping all sectors with all types of assets: meters, pressure gauges, chemical indicator gauges, regulating valves, meters? This organisation allows for better decision-making and, ultimately, better management of the supply and sanitation networks.

Second water monograph: Francisco Bernabeu

Francisco Bernabeu has extensive experience in promoting innovative projects focused on Industry 4.0 and IoT (Internet of Things). He currently operates on three main fronts to provide technology as an opportunity for different organisations: cybersecurity, integrations for Industry 4.0 and technological solutions for the digital transformation of companies and administrations.

Bernabeu is working on a project for one of the world's leading water companies, Sabesp. The company operates in the state of São Paulo in 368 municipalities serving approximately 27 million people, providing 98% of treated water and 75% of collected and treated wastewater. The goal of the company, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, is to universalise sanitation in operated and new municipalities with 100% of treated water and 95% of collected and treated wastewater by 2030.

What is your assessment and vision of the sanitation and supply situation in Brazil?

Worrying due to possible changes in the regulatory framework and the performance of the National Water Agency (ANA), as privatisation of sanitation does not achieve adequate speed to meet universalisation targets.

Water is a finite commodity and projections for growth in consumer demand suggest that it will increase steadily, is the sector technologically prepared to cope?

Sanitation companies are still in an evolutionary process towards the concepts of automation and individualised metering, but they are driving projects that seek to accelerate the digital transformation of operational processes through disruptive and value-adding technologies.

What are the benefits of implementing integrated automation, telemetry and analytics solutions in a supply network?

There are several benefits, but I would highlight the effective management of the operation, quality assurance, energy efficiency, loss reduction, effective control of losses in the water network and in the customer and/or consumer, agility in solving problems in the event of a lack of supply, incidents in the network, improved customer satisfaction and the company's image.

From your experience and involvement with the company, what would you say are Sabesp's main objectives?

The main challenges would be universalisation and addressing the legal framework for sanitation. There is no doubt that the use of technology is a fundamental aspect and competitive differential for an excellent management of the water cycle.

Sanitation companies are driving projects that seek to accelerate the digital transformation of operational processes through disruptive and value-adding technologies.

Sabesp has made a commitment to the future of Sao Paulo's citizens by incorporating Elliot Water into its management. How did you identify the need to implement a smart grid?

The solution was implemented for the smart sanitation (sanitation 4.0) in the Capivari / Jundiaí Business Unit, which serves 13 municipalities and supplies more than 400 thousand people. This implementation was necessary to improve the management of the integral water cycle, in all its stages in the process of transforming raw water into treated water; the reservoir for supply and distribution. Thus, through the sensors distributed in the network of this production chain, an improvement in operational services, the reduction of water losses, energy efficiency and customer satisfaction was obtained.


How has water management changed since the implementation of this technological solution?

The implemented solution has now become a reference at Sabesp and it intends to extend the solution to all its business units over the next 5 years.

It is clear that the company promotes sustainability as one of its strategic areas. Along these lines, why would you tell another organisation that it is necessary to invest in the digitalisation of water?

More and more solutions developed for basic sanitation require Information Technology to be an integral and complementary part, allowing the company to remain competitive in the market and to meet the requirements of regulatory bodies and municipalities.

Through sensors distributed throughout the water network, Elliot Water has enabled improved operational services, leakage reduction, energy efficiency and customer satisfaction.

What challenges does the sector face in relation to the application of technology to the management of the full water cycle?

The main challenges are undoubtedly the lack of investment and operational processes; obsolete equipment, lack of connectivity, disaggregated performance between Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT), lack of standards and norms specific to the sanitation sector and standardisation of automation solutions.


How do you see the management of the full water cycle from a digital perspective in the medium-term future?

I see that investments in automated solutions for consumption measurement, automation in water and sewage treatment, and telemetry in the networks will be boosted in all sanitation companies as a way to meet the requirements set by regulatory bodies, such as the sanitation framework, as well as the demands of the municipalities, for the services provided, for the availability and quality of water for the population.

Second water monograph : Guillermo Pascual

IoT devices (Internet of Things) today represent a major lever of digital transformation, as they are one of the main data generators.

At Agbar, the most widespread device we manage is the meter; the moment we convert this meter into a digital, i.e., into an IoT device that can send data remotely, a world of possibilities opens up based on this data, which can be transformed into useful information. If we only think that, thanks to remote reading, we will receive in a single day the same information that we would traditionally receive in four to six years, it is easy to understand the potential that these solutions offer us, based on the data.

The tele-reading of AgbarDinapsis for Water Metering, allows for the promotion of a facilitating and sustainable environment, committed to quality services for the well-being of citizens. It also promotes the digital transformation of the integral water cycle, which is essential for pursuing efficient, green, clean and collaborative management; all thanks to the use of the large amount of information it provides, useful information for management if it is used appropriately. It is, therefore, essential that it not only serves to read and invoice in substitution of manual activities, but that it is a lever towards the digital transformation of management based on the transformation of data into relevant information.

The main benefits that can be pursued and promoted are summarised below.

For citizens, these include, among others, the availability of a higher quality service in terms of the simplification and flexibility of the reading process and improved control of consumption and anomalies in almost real time through warnings and alarms. In addition, new technologies allow us to think of new services that enrich the customer experience. An example of this is the recently launched enhanced customer care service: thanks to the exploitation of historical reading data, in the event of high consumption that raises suspicions of a potential leak in the customer's internal network, a series of preventive telephone calls are made (generally robotised, and personal in the case of customers in a vulnerable situation). In addition, the charge in the case of direct debit customers is blocked for a certain period, to make it easier for the customer to contact us and manage it before receiving any charge. This shows that Agbar makes tangible, with specific initiatives, its interest in putting the customer at the centre.

At the administrative level, the most important aspects include greater transparency towards citizens through the management of and access to data and the possibility of promoting new services for citizens generated from the consumption of the data now available.

Lastly, for the water operator, they highlight the increased efficiency in the water resources management and its associated costs in terms of reduced physical losses (e.g. through real-time monitoring of hydraulic performance) and commercial losses (e.g. through detection of abnormal consumption) of water. Also, there is a clear benefit in terms of increased efficiency in commercial processes and associated costs.

Evidently, in order to reach the situation described above, there are challenges and difficulties that have to be faced. The main challenge lies in managing the volume of information generated by the array of smart meters, sensors and other data sources, and thus the need to treat them with the right algorithms and artificial intelligence to get the most out of them. With the right method and the help of algorithms, AI and even other technologies, remote metering works as a great lever for digital transformation.

Digital transformation in water treatment plants

Agbar's strategy in the management of water treatment plants (purification, drinking water or desalination plants) is very clear: the operational transformation of these plants to move from a linear industrial model to a circular sustainable model that contributes to the improvement of society (guarantee of discharge quality, regenerated water on demand, energy balance and self-production, elimination of waste, democratisation and objectification of investments, etc.), in which data and the consequent digital transformation are the channellers of this cultural and organisational transformation of the company. Therefore, Agbar's strategy consolidates the objectives of digitising assets and processes, providing a hypervision of multilevel information aggregation plants, optimising operating and asset management processes, and improving decision-making based on measurable and objective criteria. All of this enables the transformation of the operation from the current model to an advanced management model.

The main pillars upon which the value proposition of Dinapsis for Water Plants are as follows:

  • Integral digitisation of the installation (operation and asset management).
  • Centralised visualisation on a single user-friendly web platform based on the digital twin (from the simplest to the most complex side of the concept).
  • Guarantee of the veracity of the data and immediacy of its knowledge.
  • Aggregation of information and availability of a dashboard multi-level and multi-profile.
  • Monitoring online y near real time and alert generation.
  • Optimisation of operation and asset management processes through the application of simple and complex algorithms.
  • Secure remote access from any device with an internet connection.

The benefits for treatment plants resulting from this approach are as follows:

  • Integrity and validation of information.
  • Standardisation of facility data.
  • Automation of the reporting.
  • Improved decision-making with objective criteria based on data and performance indicators.
  • Improved productivity and efficiency leading to greater sustainability of the installation.
  • Reduction of operational risk.

Reform proposals to accelerate transformation

One of the levers to accelerate the transformation is access to European Next Generation funds. In this context, the Spanish government's firm commitment to the digitalisation of water represents a great opportunity to improve water management for both the urban cycle and irrigation, promoting efficiency in management, greater sustainability in the use of water resources and the improvement of the services provided, contributing to the security of supply and hydraulic infrastructures.

The data economy is a driver for improving the services provided by urban water cycle management companies, and the boost being given to digitalisation in the water sector is an opportunity.

On the other hand, the ?Aporta? initiative, stimulated by the Spanish Government, aims to foster the opening of information and the reuse of public sector information, with special attention to the State Public Sector, and in coordination with the rest of the autonomous and local Administrations in Spain, promoting the creation of new products and services, in collaboration with the private sector and civil society, and for the benefit of society. In the development of this ecosystem favourable to the creation of new data-based products and services, it is necessary to consider actions such as establishing a favourable regulatory framework, developing public-private cooperation actions, or carrying out actions to support technological innovation and business models, among others.

In the case of the water sector, involving the relevant water administrations in this action plan is essential to establish a governance and co-creation model to extract the maximum value from open data for the benefit of the community and the environment.

In short, together (society, public sector, water users and operators) we have the possibility to build better intelligence in water management that allows us to make decisions supported by data and evidence, and to create opportunities for sustainable development and the preservation and restoration of the good status of our ecosystems and water bodies.

Boosting the data economy

The promotion of the data economy is one of the priorities of the European Union and Spain, and the water sector is the subject of specific development programmes in this area. This mobilisation of public funds acts as a driving force in the water sector, promoting the technological modernisation of infrastructures and supply networks.

Therefore, the data economy is a driver for improving the services provided by urban water cycle management companies, and the boost being given to digitalisation in the water sector is an opportunity.

In this context, Agbar is a key player given its positioning both technologically and at the level of know-how. Agbar's commitment to the application of operational intelligence to information management is clear: it generates knowledge based on data and improves decision-making.

With a vocation to serve citizens and administrations, the generators of the information are, at the same time, the main beneficiaries of its use, both through the optimisation of resources dedicated to the water cycle and the extension of environmental services that contribute to the improvement of the resilience of urban ecosystems.

Agbar's desire is to create healthier, more liveable, resilient and environmentally friendly environments. For this reason, Agbar's work is aimed at achieving more efficient and circular management of cities, thus guaranteeing sustainable growth.

At all times, with the utmost rigour and care in the handling and protection of data, guaranteeing its appropriate use and the highest standards of privacy and security.

Second water monograph : Francisco Javier Sánchez

Francisco Javier Sánchez Martínez is Deputy Director General for Water Protection and Risk Management of the Directorate General for WaterThis is a body that is part of the Secretary of State for the Environment of the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge.

After finishing his studies as a Forestry Technical Engineer, Public Works Technical Engineer and Environmental Sciences Graduate, and passing the competitive examinations, first in the Corps of Public Works Technical Engineers and then in the Scale of Senior Technical Experts of the Ministry of the Environment, he started working as a civil servant for the Ministry of the Environment, always related to digital issues, such as Geographic Information Systems.

He was one of the early pioneers of the Directorate General for Water in working with Geographic Information Systems (GIS), e.g. the inventory of dams and their link to the geoportal in 2001. He has worked on dam safety issues, flood zone mapping and the implementation of the national flood zone mapping system (SNCZI). With the latest restructuring of the Ministry, in which the Directorate General for Water became responsible for hydrology and management of the Automatic Hydrological Information Systems (SAIH), he manages all the non-urban public digitalisation of the water cycle. Because of all this experience, its director, Teodoro Estrela, entrusted them with the conception, organisation and management of the PERTE de Digitalización del Ciclo del Agua (Water Cycle Digitalisation PERTE).

How long has the Directorate General for Water been in existence? And how many professionals work in it?

In reality, it has existed since the Ministries were formed, first called the Directorate General of Hydraulic Works, then renamed the Directorate General of Hydraulic Works and Water Quality, and then the Directorate General of Water, which employs between 150 and 200 staff.

How long has MITECO been working with Geographic Information Systems?

We started working with geographic information in 1998, when we acquired the first ArcInfo licences and published the first geoportal in 2000. Today we work with both ArcGIS and QGIS.

What powers does it have vis-à-vis the confederations?

Although the confederations are autonomous entities, a large part of the actions are agreed with them, and the Directorate General for Water is the one that finances the actions and the hydrological plans, as well as planning and coordinating these actions with the confederations.

What does digitisation mean for the Water Directorate General?

It means knowledge and transparency.

For example, the first successful case of digitisation was the publication of the yearbook of gauges in 1911, with the great advance it meant in terms of having the information immediately available to any user on the flow rates of the rivers in Spain.

What is the current state of digitalisation of the water sector in Spain? What has this digitalisation been like? Is it homogeneous? Where and why are there differences in the sector?

The state is uneven. Not all areas and territories are at the same level. Each territory and the different administrations have evolved little by little, in a heterogeneous way depending on the budget, problems and concerns of each body, reaching a series of natural and asymmetrical milestones in each region.

For example, in the north of Spain, digitalisation has traditionally advanced more in wastewater discharges, given that they suffer problems in this regard, due to the large amount of water resources that existed before the impact of climate change, while in the south it has advanced more on the supply side and the resource of clean water, due to its scarcity.

Each region will therefore invest more effort in those parts of the water cycle where it is most needed, based on its particular requirements.

The main factor favouring digitalisation has been the possibility to work and remotely manage many territorial areas from home without the need to travel?

What are the major benefits of digitisation?

The first is transparency. The second is savings. Because everything that is not measured, is not accounted for and is not valued. When we know what we are spending, we automatically start to save, which is very relevant when it comes to water.

What difficulties are there for progress in this regard?

In the administrations, change is complicated, mainly in the contracting model, due to the internal brakes that the administration has, as we were used to tendering a project, finishing it and receiving it. Therefore, the models change, the internal IT structure, which must be adapted, whereas now we have to go to the cloud, the current servers are no longer useful, and therefore the way of contracting is changing, which increases the internal friction.

And externally, the contracting itself, which is different, as it contracts a technology or a service for years, and it is not the type of service that was put out to tender, so it is complicated to explain to the financial controllers, for example, or to those responsible for the computer systems, with new knowledge that has to be incorporated; to this is added the lack of personnel, as the professionals who hold the knowledge have a lot of work and there is a certain collapse in their activities.

How can institutions support this digitalisation and is PERTE an appropriate driver for this digital transformation?

Well, with a multitude of projects, such as the PERTE water cycle, which is favouring digitalisation at all levels. In fact, after the pandemic, all administrations are turning to digitalisation to facilitate the development of remote work.

What external factors have favoured this digitisation?

The main factor has been the possibility of working and remotely managing many territorial areas from home without the need to travel. In addition, the possibility of being able to operate an infrastructure from a workstation without having to be there makes it an enormously useful tool, breaks down barriers and borders and is the closest thing there is to teleportation. The circumstances are ripe for transformation and savings.

We should all have the water app on our mobile phones and it should be a tool that allows us to distinguish between those users who manage water well and those who still don't, rewarding those who do?

What does the Water Directorate General foresee in the future of the digitalisation of the water cycle?

We are going to try to work as hard as possible to promote the care of this resource and improve its management through knowledge of the water cycle. Everything that happens to water will be known, from catchment in rivers and aquifers, the use of water in the city, discharges in real time, with data on volume, flow, characteristics and quality, days of rain, what has been collected in drainage systems, what has been treated and released into the environment, the circulating flows of all watercourses in a single centralised web site in real time, connection with AEMET to have seasonal and weekly forecasts. In the field of irrigation, all irrigators will be provided with information on the resource they have, what they are using, as well as on the excess nitrogen, phosphorous and pesticides discharged into the environment, and in the field of industry, so that they have greater guarantees about the quality of the water they are going to collect.

We want a fully 21st century management model, so the plan must help to bring as many water users as possible into the 21st century, given that the water cycle management has not reached everyone equally.

In smartphones we are missing the water application, which is the one we don't have yet. We should be able to have the urban cycle, the consumption of water in our homes and that it reaches the large operators, as well as being available to irrigation users and owners of its use.

We should all have this application on our mobile phones and it should be a tool that allows us to distinguish between those users who manage water well and those who still do not. Rewarding those who do.

It is a very holistic and inclusive idea, so that we can all participate in the water cycle according to our capabilities and individual or corporate responsibility.

Second monograph on water | Paloma Batanero

Today, however, it is no longer a question of saving water for a few weeks or months from now, but of quantifying all losses, all needs and being able to make every drop count as much as two, or at least more than it did before. We are at a point in technological development where many physical processes have been optimised to almost their theoretical maximum. Nor are water supply cuts compatible with the development of economic activity, and society is very sensitive to these possible measures.

So how can the performance of the water cycle be improved? The digitisation of the water cycle is the only way forward:

  1. The first step is measurement: A process that is not measured cannot be quantified and cannot be improved.

And precisely, we are in the era of the data access and analysis revolution, as the last two decades have democratised access to sensors, making it possible to read them and connect them in real time to huge data reservoirs.

  1. The next step is the analysis of this data: There is no point in filling up terabytes of information if it is not grouped and linked together. You have to go from millions of irrelevant data to trends, averages and progressions.

This task has also become possible, because since the year 2000, the processing capacity has increased 1000-fold, and solutions are available on the market that are able to digest, review, clean, assemble, monitor, parameterise, associate, correlate, analyse, graphically represent and, of course, use artificial intelligence to aggregate individual data. With the analysis we will know where we are and the possible margin for improvement (up to the theoretical performance or maximum effectiveness of the 100%).

  1. Finally, intelligence, whether human or artificial, is incorporated into continuous improvement, feeding back into the system in real time as changes are incorporated.

This is the real differentiation compared to the traditional way of making investments, which were based on a fixed snapshot of reality, at a given time and provide a single solution, which is not able to adapt over time. But if we have a continuous data flow of reality, managed on a sufficiently powerful platform, and connected to digital twins of the processes to be operated and optimised, we have a tool with a practically unlimited capacity for learning and continuous improvement of the system.

Solutions available for a reality

Digitalisation platforms, which are successfully used in many other sectors, such as energy, marketing, business development, financial management, etc., are a very powerful tool that will help us both to quantify and identify all consumption and trends in water use, and to plan, correlate and better understand the processes we need to review in order to establish automatic corrections and improvements by applying their artificial intelligence tools, making continuous optimisation possible.

These platforms are capable of carrying out the following operations:

  • Incorporate all available sources. Be technology agnostic.
  • Connecting in real time all systems, being able to check, discard and clear erroneous data, subsequently filling in the data sets at the moment the signal is re-established with the sensor.
  • Collect and translate external information in the data repository, such as temperature, precipitation, tweets, news, dates or relevant events.
  • Integrate powerful visualisation tools, customised for each user and easily configurable for non-IT profiles.
  • Analyse variables individually and jointly to find relationships between variables and present lines powerful enough to handle large volumes of data.
  • Apply artificial intelligence, discovering relationships between variables and proposing changes to improve system performance, or making predictions of future behaviour and comparing with a possible improvement, indicating where to act.
  • Incorporate the economic variable to quantify the possible improvement in both CAPEX and OPEX.
  • Connect with the network operation to be extremely fast in its application, feeding new data back into the data lake.
  • Be independent of third-party solutions to ensure its stability over time.

Digital twins, with their computer representation of concrete processes that occur in real life, by applying the laws of physics and defining all the elements that make up a system, such as the pipes of a supply network, or the geometry of a watercourse running through a city, are able to provide identical results as the real system, when receiving the same inputs.

It should only be noted that, as deterministic models, they require a stable data source to obtain consistent results, and therefore must first pass through the filter of data management platforms, constituting an additional input for the analysis and optimisation process of water management.

Water cycle

This makes them of almost infinite value as a free, or almost no cost, testing ground compared to what a real system test would entail, so combined with data digitisation platforms, they are a tool that cannot be ignored.

The possibilities offered by the union of both technologies, digital twins plus data digitisation platforms, when making prognoses of the effects that certain conditions or changes are going to have on the system, without having to carry them out directly, with the consequent saving of time and money.

And this is not science fiction, even if it sounds like it, as joint solutions for analysis, visualisation, inference, simulation, optimisation and even decision support in operation have already been implemented in many entities. water management and supply companiesThe benefits are immediate and quantifiable. Those organisations that incorporate it into their daily operations will see how overall expenditure is reduced, progressively achieving further improvements in their performance and operation, both on a regular basis and in the event of emergencies.

Water cycle

Digitisation of the water cycle: components, processes and expected improvement KPIs

The time is right to solve the water problem once and for all, because we have technology, highly specialised roles and knowledge, in a context of active collaboration of governmental bodies.

What are you waiting for to change the chronicle of the water cycle?

Second water monograph | Óscar Ruiz Chicote

It is an indisputable fact that climate change is no longer silent and is having an increasing impact on society by raising the level of water stress in cities and agricultural production, as well as in industrial fabrics and energy systems.
I would like to dedicate the introduction to this issue to commemorate the world water day which will be celebrated on 22 March. This event coincides with the start of the UN Water 2023 Conference in New York, which will be a unique opportunity to seek solutions to the current water crisis, to accelerate progress on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: Water and sanitation for all by 2030, and to set the roadmap for achieving other internationally agreed targets related to this resource.

Water is a very precious finite good and we must try to work together to find a solution to optimise it and consume it with sense. From Elliot Cloud we want to place on our agenda the mission of contributing to propose solutions through technology to solve the challenges for the management of water resources, collaborating with actors linked to sustainable development initiatives and projects to digitise water management that help us prepare for the challenges of the present and the future.

Water affects us all, so we all need to take action. There is an urgent need to accelerate change, and technology is a tool that will help us to increase efficiency in all water processes. integral water cycle minimising the amount of resources used.

Second water monograph : Fernando Morcillo

Fernando Morcillo is a civil engineer with a degree in environmental engineering and postgraduate studies in business economics. Throughout his professional life he has worked in the private and public sector, in industrial and urban matters.

He was captivated by service engineering and worked at Canal de Isabel II developing installations, works, operating systems, etc. He was also involved for ten years with The World's Water and since 2014 he has served as president of the Spanish Association for Water Supply and Sanitation (AEAS)The Spanish Water Association, a professional grouping of reference in the urban water sector in Spain.

AEAS is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. What is the role of AEAS?
In 1973 as a non-profit professional association for the promotion and development of scientific, technical, administrative and legal aspects of urban water supply and sanitation services.

AEAS It encompasses managing bodies - municipal utilities and public, private and mixed entities - as well as water-related technology companies, public bodies and individual experts.

Therefore, it could be said that we are a forum for technical meetings and the exchange of experiences, that we try to defend the values of efficiency of services and to improve the service to citizens. That is what is written in our statutes and in our founding charter.

Digitalisation is a term that is now on everyone's lips... What does it mean for AEAS?

The specific conditions of our sector, which is highly deployed throughout the territory and with numerous infrastructures located far from urban centres, have always required elementary communications awareness, not only for remote control, signal reception and management, but also for remote control because it was necessary to act on systems established many kilometres away. This, which today seems very elementary, at the time, saved a great deal of costs for citizens and taxpayers.

Companies are entities that handle an infinite amount of data, because practically all citizens are water users. In fact, at the moment in Spain, we have almost half a meter per person, some 20 million meters, which generates a large volume of information. All this has generated the imperative need for asset management itself to know where the connection nodes are, where the pumps are, where the tanks are, etc. This also conditioned and favoured the need to always focus on the deployment and management of information.

Today it is what we call digital twins, but in the past it was known as a simulation model. It is something that has been evolving, firstly, in large cities, but it has already happened in many towns in Spain, in other words, we can already see that it is a necessity to manage the data to provide the best solution.

In fact, there are two stages. The first, in the 1960s, with the deployment of civil infrastructure, which began to become industrial units, such as drinking water treatment plants (DWTP), where drinking water is "manufactured" from natural water through highly industrial processes such as filtration or chlorination. The second, in the 1980s, began to do the same with wastewater plants.

Therefore, we have a lot of infrastructure deployed in the territory, we could say, low-volume hydraulic infrastructure and also industrial plants that have become productive units that have to be exploited and maintained as an industry.

And right now, how would you rate the current state of digitisation of supply and sanitation networks?

The problem we have in our country is the extreme heterogeneity that exists between the big leaders in the sector and those towns with less technological capacity, which are still, on the other hand, in many cases, the responsibility and are under the direct management of local councils, which is a problem because it requires a high level of specialisation and, on occasions, they do not have the capacity to do so.

The leaders are very well positioned because, since the 1990s, our industry has gone abroad with a lot of power and strength. We have a very long history in this area and, therefore, a very large capacity. For example, in the field of desalination. If you look at the Spanish industry, you say: we don't manufacture anything that is necessary to make a desalination plant. We don't make membranes, we don't make pressure pumps, we don't make energy recovery systems, but we know how to integrate them and we know how to provide a solution by buying the best because we guarantee the operation of these plants. We are magnificent integrators with solutions oriented towards what the client wants, which in the end is to have water for human consumption and, of course, for irrigation. We have very cutting-edge organisations that have experienced global development.

The Spanish sector is prepared for these technological leaps. We know how to provide solutions.

This is not to say that there is not a big gap between leaders and small businesses, especially when they are not clustered. Clusters of municipalities are important in order to achieve economies of scale that allow them to be more efficient and technologically capable to deal with this great revolution that is taking place.

Robotic systems are key in the sewerage network for preparation, monitoring and observation, but also for irrigation to avoid possible water leakage over long distances.

The rural world, which has a much smaller population and fewer resources, is more dispersed in the population centres and this is the main challenge we have to face. How can we do it? What strategies do you think are possible to solve this gap?

Basically, the way to do this is through the concentration or integration of municipalities into different systems. These can be associations of municipalities, provincial companies, regional councils, etc. All of this brings great advantages when it comes to distributing the efforts of citizens because, logically, the service in a small municipality is more expensive than in a large capital city, be it in terms of customers, cubic metres served or any other ratio. Therefore, it is only by grouping together that it can be efficient and equalise conditions in terms of cost and technology, thanks to the critical size that facilities and services should have.

And that critical size can you size it up?

We believe that there are very good experiences above one hundred thousand or one hundred and fifty thousand. It is not defined, perhaps somewhere there may be an entity that is efficient with fifty thousand, due to the conditions of the environment and the economic situation.

There are always exceptions, but on that border there would be an ideal entity, although if it can be done by nucleating us with a large city as a large conurbation, so much the better. This is the example of the Community of Madrid, which provides services to very small municipalities in the mountains. This allows for economies of scale and economic adjustments, but also for the provision of quality service, comfort and safety, much better than if it were done by individualised nuclei.

Nor should we lose sight of the solution offered by private companies. This often does not require the grouping of municipalities to be convex, i.e. it does not require the municipalities to belong to the same territory, administration, region or autonomy, but rather, thanks to new technologies, it allows economies of scale to be achieved with isolated municipalities, but with a certain population. These are integrated operation solutions that do not have to do with regional, administrative or territorial connection and that, in the end, have an ideal size to provide adequate technological solutions.

In the phases of digitalisation of the water sector, have they been determined by necessity or by the rapid incorporation of technological advances? In other words, has the distribution and sanitation sector been able to integrate technology quickly?

Since there is no competitive market around them, but rather a competition for prestige, it has advanced more slowly than other sectors. And, in short, many technologies are imported from other sectors, they are developed in other sectors that are more advanced for reasons of competitiveness, but they reach water, albeit cautiously. We could be more developed, no doubt.

I would like to give an example of what we identify in the curve we have of non-revenue water, with which we are measuring the functioning of the networks. In the 1990s we had between 33 and 35% of unregistered water - the sum of losses, plus fraud, metering errors, etc. -. Today, we are at 23.5%, but in 2008 we had reached 22%. However, the lack of investment after the crisis of those years, which has deeply affected the water sector, because we are investing four or five times less than what was invested in those years before 2008, caused this ratio to rise.

In 2012, the digital technology of leakage control starts to generalise a little bit and from then on we have maintained the conditions. Obviously, the scenario will not improve as long as we do not renew infrastructure, which is the basis, but digitalisation in this field offers a very rapid diagnostic capacity, which allows you to speed up decision-making and favours active action, either preventively in the event of an incident or correctively.

All the current technology implemented in the water networks is making it possible to maintain a status that is not the best, but which has prevented a return to values above 30%. The 23.5% that we have today in our national study for the year 2022 is an average and, like all averages, we must be careful with it. There are systems in Spain that have an unregistered water index of 60%, while the large cities are close to 10, even below that value. In other words, there is a tremendous dispersion of results, of losses in the networks due to their malfunctioning.

In all this process of continuous improvement, do you think that PERTE will solve the current problems or will it be a push that, if not maintained, will bring us back to the starting point?

At this time, when we are experiencing a very powerful evolution of European legislation on water, I believe that this is going to continue, because Europe is much more stable than we are in its decisions on regulatory rules and the monitoring of these rules.

In January, Royal Decree 3/2023 was published, which is the transposition of the Drinking Water Directive, a European directive from two years ago, which transposes an obligation to report on the efficiency conditions of our networks by 2026, although the parameters have yet to be defined.

In addition to the reporting of all countries, there will be delegated acts to set targets in each country that will impose an obligation on practically all municipalities of a certain size. So we will evolve a lot in that sense and it will require the provision of digitisation mechanisms.

The PERTE has come at an ideal time for this because it identifies certain conditions required by Europe. In addition, we have in the pipeline the draft of the Waste Water Directive, which will also take a couple of years to arrive, which is setting some fundamental conditions linked to the sewage networks, such as the control of overflows of untreated water.

This is going to generate very powerful requirements for something that nobody looks at today, which are the sewerage networks and which, thanks to civil engineering, have a lot of inertia and do not require much to function. Furthermore, our greatest public assets in the urban water cycle are in the sewerage networks. On the other hand, they are very old and deteriorated, with serious problems, let's say of functioning, but they provide their service after many years.

Digitisation in the field of leakage monitoring offers very fast diagnostic capability, which allows for quicker decision making and proactive action," he said.

The European Reuse Regulation has also been approved, which is exclusively for irrigation, water for agricultural irrigation. Europe has reached a common conclusion on how this should be done and, as a result, this regulation has arisen and we have to comply with it. This is also going to condition us and requires the deployment of digitalisation for compliance.

In recent years there has been an important transformation in terms of sensorisation and quality. Today we have sensorisation of many physical parameters such as pressure, humidity or temperature, but quality is going to end up imposing itself because today the networks can be very sensitive to quality incidents and it is essential to ensure the quality of the service for citizens. Water is one of the most controlled ingestion elements, but even so, given the distribution system, the network will have to be plagued in the coming years with quality mechanisms, devices and sensors. We will have to look for those that provide an explanation of a possible incidence or deterioration of water quality.

And then, on the other hand, in a country like ours, which is very dry, with a heterogeneous distribution of water, a fundamental element is the administration of water itself. We still have a somewhat nineteenth-century administration. In the 1980s there was a very large deployment of river control, water extraction and quality systems, which were intended to be very powerful but which are now obsolete and outside the typical parameters that digitalisation requires today, in terms of sensorisation, communications, data integration and analysis.

In relation to digitalisation, it is no longer enough to just have a panel and a SCADA where they notify an alert or a fault. There are now artificial intelligence or robotic systems that allow decisions to be made online and almost in real time. Robotic systems are key in the sewerage network for preparation, monitoring and observation, but also for irrigation to avoid possible water leaks over long distances, for example, drones help to monitor very long lengths of pipes and detect with cameras any dampness that should not be present at certain points.

Finally, let's talk about the role of cybersecurity in the digitisation of the full water cycle, what is your vision?

Personally, I am very concerned about the issue of cybersecurity, and we have taken this up with the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge. The fundamental foundations of computer and electronic security must be laid from the outset, otherwise it will be all patches and bad solutions. It is necessary to start by having a clear vision of being as secure as possible because there is a lot of data and if it is manipulated it can lead to very wrong diagnoses. Therefore, we must take this into account and include it in the cost items, in the specialisation and in the subsequent development to avoid making mistakes.

Second water monograph | Óscar Ortiz

The accelerated digital explosion in which we have been immersed in recent years has made it possible to apply advanced techniques based on data in almost all of a company's processes. In this way, Data Engineering and Data Science have gradually crept into the definition, execution and implementation of new business applications, starting with the technical areas of operation, manufacturing or logistics, extending to the commercial areas of customer management, billing, marketing or customer service, and finally embracing the more organisational areas of the company such as accounting, finance, purchasing or corporate strategy itself.

In this way, the more traditional GIS has been able to evolve towards true geographic intelligence. The key to this evolution lies in the generation of living systems that integrate heterogeneous capabilities by dynamically adapting them as if they were LEGO pieces. Only in this way is today's GIS capable of consuming and exploiting data streams from APIs and IoT sensors, navigating large lakes of data, shaping large point clouds from different technologies such as the LiDARElliot's goal has always been to bring this new GIS geographic intelligence paradigm to people and businesses in a simple way, without the need to deal with the enormous complexity that makes it possible. This has been Elliot's goal from the beginning: to bring this new paradigm of GIS geographic intelligence to people and companies in a simple way, without having to deal with the enormous complexity that makes it possible.

Elliot GIS

Democratising geographic intelligence

Those of us who have worked in the GIS world over the last two decades still believe that these systems have not yet reached their full potential. Our obsession has always been to place the geographic component on the same level as its first cousin, the temporal component. That is why we cannot conceive of a correct decision process without taking into consideration the associated location of the data in its full extent. Failure to adequately take into account the absolute location or relative position between assets, elements or events, or simply to separate the analysis processes according to the nature of the data, whether alphanumeric or geographic, represents a considerable reduction in the representativeness of the business intelligence and knowledge generation processes that should be the basis of efficient decision-making processes.

Not taking the geographic component into account is a considerable drain on companies' intelligence creation and decision-making process," he said.

The GIS approach offered by Elliot is based on the premise of bringing this technology to its rightful place. Elliot GIS acts as a gateway to services, content and functionalities exposed in an integrated platform that harnesses the full power of Elliot solutions based on low code, IoT, Big Data and data analytics. Thus, with the vocation of playing a crucial role as the backbone between the different key business processes of a company, Elliot GIS provides a growing range of modular solutions conveniently verticalised by sector and industry.

We created Elliot GIS, an integrated platform

Through a simple user interface, Elliot GIS offers different solutions that encapsulate in equal parts the data models, services and applications necessary to solve the problems of companies around the consultation, visualisation, management and integration of their geographic data applied to the operation, monitoring and expert analysis of their business processes. These solutions also provide business knowledge in the form of adaptable metamodels and expert digital services that combine the power of GIS with the rest of the high-value alphanumeric components such as IoT or data analytics.

Operation-oriented solutions take advantage of assisted management of 2D geographic data generation, lightweight editing, rich visualisation, and remote connectivity and actuation.

Elliot GIS by means of real-time systems. In this area we find solutions for the sustainable management of urban irrigation, assisted management of supply networks or assisted management of urban services such as lighting, asset management or maintenance work.

The monitoring-oriented solutions take advantage of the geographic intelligence capabilities of Raster analysis, geopositioning and hyper visualisation in the service of a powerful integration with time series, a weak point in the GIS systems and online map services currently available on the market. Elliot GIS provides solutions that meet the needs of sectors with a clear demand for reactive alerts to changes, not only in the states or conditions of their assets or elements, but also dependent on their location. The operation and maintenance of public services, logistics or monitoring in Industry 4.0 are good examples of this.

Where our GIS platform can bring the most value to your customers is through its extensive analysis capabilities.

In a first stage of analysis, Elliot GIS covers from the most basic needs for the consumption of reports or dashboards to obtain a description of the operational situation to the tools necessary to execute expert diagnoses of what has happened that can be integrated into future planning or action plans. At this point, we have the capacity to integrate with models or simulators such as, for example, the hydraulic modelling applied to the water sector.

Elliot GIS is a versatile, simple, adaptable and integrated platform with a state-of-the-art ecosystem of expert technologies that bring the full power of IoT, Artificial Intelligence and Big Data?

In a second stage of analysis, the platform connects with expert analytical systems to provide customers with expert prediction and prescription services based on the combination of data sources with special emphasis on the geographic component, as well as the possibility of creating their own services by combining Elliot GIS modules and components.
It should be noted that the platform is complemented with a desktop GIS system programme to which the necessary modules and components have been incorporated for perfect integration and connectivity with Elliot GIS. With this we manage to cover almost all the interaction needs in map or GIS format, from the simplest and lightest accessible in online or mobile environments to the most powerful or demanding of complex resources that, from experience, are recommended to be executed in local work environments.

Elliot GIS

Elliot GIS: Excellence makes us different 

The Elliot GIS platform is a young solution, but with a vocation to meet the needs of clients who increasingly demand simple tools that can be adapted to their own reality, without sacrificing maximum functionality and value by integrating GIS systems with the power of current technologies. Our advantage over other similar solutions on the market lies in the fact that, since its inception, Elliot GIS integrates these objectives into its DNA. From open source technologies, we have been able to design and develop a platform that delivers value to our customers through concrete solutions that respond to specific problems. This makes customisation as easy as possible, maximising the speed of adoption and avoiding the need for customers to become experts in order to get the most out of the platform.

We are aware that our more versatile, simple, adaptable and integrated GIS platform with the latest generation ecosystem of expert technologies is a paradigm shift in the way companies have been consuming and integrating maps into their processes. But this is the trend of what is coming, true integrated geographic intelligence. At Elliot, we help companies make the transition to the next level of GIS naturally, without surprises or headaches. Because that, like excellence, is also in our DNA.

Second water monograph : Victor Arroyo

Isle Utilities is a global team of scientists, engineers, business and regulatory experts with a common drive to achieve positive social, economic and environmental impact through the advancement of innovative technologies and related practices.

Isle's mission is to be recognised as a leading catalyst in bringing together technology, end users and investors, fostering the adoption of emerging technologies and innovative practices that create value for our stakeholders and a positive impact on the world around us.

Following the success of Isle Utilities' Climate Change Trial Reservoir programme, the new Brazil-focused fund follows a similar process to make it easier for water technology innovators to access funding for pilot trials.

Political impetus for sanitation in Brazil

The social impacts of water supply and sewerage services on people's quality of life and the environment are increasingly on the political agenda in Brazil. In addition, the economic impact of the sector on the productive chain, with employment and income generation, is also recognised.

Despite its undeniable economic importance, Brazil has a deficit in these services. According to the National Sanitation Information System (SNIS), about 35 million Brazilians do not have access to water supply, and only 55% of the population has sewerage service.

Faced with this situation, the Brazilian State committed itself to universalising sanitation services, guaranteeing access to treated water to 99% of the population and 90% to sewerage services (collection and treatment of wastewater generated). A significant amount of investment was required to achieve these targets.

In this sense, the use of innovative technologies is identified as an opportunity to do things better, reducing investment costs and generating opportunities to improve the efficiency and quality of services.

What is Trial Reservoir?

The Trial Reservoir programme promoted by Isle Utilities is a funding mechanism that provides technology companies with a risk-free fund to test and adopt innovative technologies. The objective is to increase and accelerating the implementation of innovation with the aim of mitigating climate change. The model combines loan financing with technology acceleration and support for market penetration of innovations in the water and renewable energy sectors.

The Trial Reservoir programme combines loan financing with technology acceleration and market penetration support for innovations in the water and renewable energy sectors.

A total of nine pilot projects have been launched and five of these have been completed, of which four have been successfully concluded, meaning that the fund has facilitated the commercialisation of four technologies within the water industry. In addition, the potential of this unique initiative has been recognised, with the model winning the Innovation in Decarbonisation category of the WEX Global Awards 2022 in Valencia, Spain. The judges were looking for case studies that show significant energy potential, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make water infrastructure efficient and resilient.

Trial Reservoir

The recognition was a great thrill for Dr Jo Burgess, Trial Reservoir Manager at Isle Utilities, who said: "It is a great honour to win this award because it is a reflection of the hard work and dedication of everyone involved.

The water sector is a major contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions and more needs to be done to help the sector invest in and accelerate the adoption of technologies that contribute to achieving carbon neutrality, which is why the Trial Reservoir project has been so enthusiastically embraced by a sector hungry for change," explained Dr Jo Burgess.

The Trial Reservoir aims to boost the adoption and broaden the offer of novel technology-based solutions that can help water and sanitation service providers to achieve efficiency and reduce their emissions. The technologies implemented will have a significant impact on climate change adaptation, reducing water consumption and mitigating CO? emissions.

The use of innovative technologies is identified as an opportunity to do things better, reducing investment costs and generating opportunities to improve efficiency and quality of services.

The model proposed by Isle Utilities has become a proven success in the industry, with many ongoing tests and a promising future. Given the current context in Brazil, and the presence of Isle Utilities in this market, a strategic decision has been made to establish a fund with an exclusive focus on the country with the support of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and IDB Lab.

Brazil's Trial Reservoir not only presents a new breakthrough opportunity for innovation, but also a partnership to join forces in support of Brazil's water sector between Isle Utilities and the Inter-American Development Bank Group's innovation lab (IDB Lab), which co-funds Trial Reservoir in the country.

Why Brazil?

Derived from the context mentioned at the beginning of this article, it appears that the speed of adoption of innovation is not fast enough or at the scale needed to effectively address the problems of the water sector. Frequent extreme weather events add to uncertainty about the availability of water resources and water quality, impeding progress in filling gaps in service provision. These problems disproportionately affect less developed and vulnerable communities, which have little access to high quality services. Many of these problems can be addressed by incorporating new technologies; however, speed of adoption is often the biggest obstacle, and we hope this initiative can help overcome this.

In this context the Brazilian Trial Reservoir proposes a pool of funds for funding to be made available to commercial-stage technology companies, enabling them to carry out pilot projects for technology adoption in Brazilian water utilities. (in layout here there is a sentence break) If the trial is successful and the technology has secured commercial contracts with end-users, the loan with interest will be repaid to Isle Utilities. If the trial is unsuccessful, despite everyone's best efforts, the funding will not have to be repaid, providing a risk-free opportunity for technology companies wishing to participate in pilot trials.

This feature makes Trial Reservoir a unique mechanism to facilitate the market entry of innovative technologies in Brazil, at a special time when Isle Utilities is already working with important players in the sector and to which it intends to bring more value and support in their innovation and technology adoption processes.

Trial Reservoir Brazil is open to technology providers with interest and capacity to serve the Brazilian market. The only requirements are that the technology has an interest to actively participate in projects with the Brazilian water industry and that it is a technology ready to be implemented on a commercial scale with a water utility.

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