10 May 2021 | Reading 11 mins.

Safeguarding water’s digital transformation

The water sector has the opportunity to learn from other sectors that are more advanced in terms of automation and digital transformation.

Photo: Ivan Bandura

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Dragan Savic
Chief Executive Officer of the KWR Water Research Institute, Netherlands, Professor at the University of Exeter and Distringuished Professor at the University Kebangsaan, Malaysia

Dragan Savic, Chief Executive Officer of the KWR Water Research Institute, Netherlands, Professor at the University of Exeter and Distringuished Professor at the University Kebangsaan, Malaysia

Effective utilisation of data, digital twins and robotics have the potential to improve how we manage complex water systems. The car and aircraft industries can share seven valuable lessons when it comes to digital adoption, risk mitigation and accident avoidance.

Over the last two decades, modern digital technology has transformed our society by improving the planning and management of complex systems. Banking, transportation, marketing, entertainment and tourism industries have all witnessed huge disruption.

The water sector, too, has seen increased applications of wireless sensor networks, autonomous robots and sophisticated artificial intelligence tool applications. Given the multifaceted challenges surrounding water, this acceleration of digitalisation appears inevitable to improve how we manage this precious resource.

However, there will inevitably be additional risks associated with those developments. One benefit of being behind the digital curve is that the sector has the opportunity to learn from others that are more advanced in terms of automation and digital transformation.

For example – the aviation and automotive sectors have made significant strides towards full automation. The introduction of digital technological advances, coupled with the drive for increased automation have also contributed to several high-profile failures in sectors where safety is of paramount importance.

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