From AquaTech Trade (Emma Weisbord):
As the digital transformation of the water sector continues to increase in pace and scale, we predict 2020 will be the year of lessons learned and enlightenment. The last few years were marked by peaks of inflated expectations over several emerging technologies, notably blockchain and AI/ML, both enabled by the ability to outsource storage and computing to the cloud. While these technologies and others remain exciting tools to improve efficiency and reduce costs, the integration into business operations has been lacking…
The key is to ensure that digital transformation is done with vision, purpose, and strategy. This brings us to the slope of enlightenment, which will be the key trend in 2020. The enlightenment trend of 2020 will be supported by change managers who will guide the water sector’s adoption and strategic integration of digital technologies.
Whereas the last few years highlighted technologists, we predict that 2020 will place a spotlight on the guides, those able to work between business and technology to seamlessly integrate the two.
This next year is when the rubber hits the road on large scale digital transformation. The water sector will need change agents to help establish vision, value, business imperatives, identify wins and friction points, and set out strategic roadmaps for water utilities.
The slope of enlightenment will continue to be lit by these guides, leading the water sector onto the plateau of productivity, where technologies are integrated to reduce business costs and increase efficiency, allowing us to achieve our goal of universal access to safe water and sanitation…
2020: Digital, decentralized and democratized
Will Sarni, CEO, Water Foundry
In the world of water, 2019 was an inflection point and in some respects a departure from the past. The digital transformation of the water sector took hold, centralized water systems continue to fail calling attention to the opportunities with decentralized systems and we moved closer to democratizing access to real time data, actionable information and alternative hydration.
Looking ahead to 2020, I see three major trends.
Digital: Analog water solutions are well on their way to extinction as the digital transformation of the water sector accelerates. Digital water technologies continue to scale with public and private enterprises and the innovation pipeline for new digital technologies is thriving. Digital technologies and start-ups such as satellite data acquisition for real time water quality monitoring and flood prediction, AI applications for asset and resource management and real time water quality monitoring at the tap are scaling.
Decentralized: Centralized water systems are aging, underinvested and increasingly fail. Decentralized (and distributed) water systems are emerging as viable alternatives to capital intensive centralized water systems. These decentralized systems are more resilient to extreme weather events and provide more affordable alternatives to capital intensive centralized systems.
Democratized: The tragedy of lead contamination of drinking water in Flint, Michigan was not an isolated occurrence and served as a wake-up call that democratized access to real time data and actionable information is now essential. Imagine if the residents of Flint had affordable and reliable real time water quality data at their taps? Imagine if safe drinking water was available via small scale air moisture capture technologies?
Don’t view these as separate trends. For example, digital technologies are enabling the adoption of decentralized systems and democratized data and information and access to water. 2020 will be the year of digital water fuelling decentralized and democratized access to water.