Digital Twin Technology is not new, not even for the water industry.
Nevertheless, there are often misconceptions about how expensive and how difficult it is to deploy one. In this short interview with Qatium advisor Dragan Savic — CEO at KWR Water and Professor of Hydroinformatics at the University of Exeter — we talk best practices for deploying a Digital Twin. You’ll find the transcript below.
If you’re unfamiliar with what a Digital Twin is and how it can help water utilities optimize network performance, you might like to review our previous post for an overview.
Best Practices for Deploying a Digital Twin
How Digital Twins have improved over the years
There is this misconception about Digital Twins. Historically, it took a long time and lots of effort to create an online or real-time model. Nowadays, with the modern digital technologies and solutions like the one offered by Qatium, the integration between real-time data and the model can be done much faster.
Why integrate real-time data with your Digital Twin
One of the key features with software is to have the entry point for bringing the data in, and in particular real-time data if you want to make these Digital Twins work for us. And having this API (Application Programming Interface), where you can connect your data sources to your model directly, is the great way forward. And in the past, there were quite a few software packages that didn’t have that or didn’t offer it openly, so you were fixed with one way of providing data to the model. With APIs things have changed, and that’s the great benefit for linking the model and the data. A key component for creating Digital Twins.
How can operators benefit from a Digital Twin
Utilities often have one or a couple of operators monitoring what is happening with their systems. And these people have to deal with a number of issues in their daily work. And having an online model that can identify an anomaly, that can identify what a potential solution could be, is enormously useful for somebody in that position. And those people are usually highly trained, allowing access to a real-time Digital Twin can actually empower many more people in the organization to use the tool and help in the process of rectifying faults or problems within the system, rather than just the one highly trained professional.
Why utilities should learn from each other
There are obviously utilities that are ahead of the adoption curve of digital technologies, and those utilities are usually there because of the leadership. But that’s not enough. Necessary, but not enough. It needs to be both top-down and bottom-up kind of acceptance of the need for such a technology to improve the efficiency of their systems and how they work.
On the other hand, there are utilities that are lagging behind and quite often for legitimate reasons, they have other priorities at the moment. My advice would be that they need to talk to each other. That’s the best way to create a group of utilities, to exchange best practices, to try to see what are the common challenges that could be addressed with these new technologies. That’s the best way.
I’ve spoken to many directors of water utilities utilities who subscribe to that and share their experiences with others, because early adopters could be adopting technologies that may be surpassed in a year or two. And that’s that’s the risk that they’re taking, but at least they can share that experience with their colleagues, so we don’t make the same mistakes again. We make new mistakes.
Implementing a Digital Twin like Qatium is easy. You can get up-and-running quickly by creating an account and uploading a GIS dataset or hydraulic model. The User Interface is simple and intuitive, so non-technical users don’t require training.