SWAN North American Alliance Newsletter – Fall 2017

Alliance Update

WEBINAR: “Boosting Adoption of Smart Water Networks through Policy”

On June 8, 2017, the SWAN North American Alliance held its second webinar, “Boosting Adoption of Smart Water Networks through Policy,” facilitated by Frost & Sullivan. Speakers represented diverse organizations that are advocating for and catalyzing the implementation of technology for data-information operations and sustainable planning. The unified theme is the recognition that new advanced monitoring and IT will transform our understanding of water and better inform water resource management.

Presenters included Jeff Lape, Deputy Director of the U.S. EPA, Tim Braun, Enterprise Architect of EmNet LLC, Peter Mulvaney, Senior Manager of West Monroe Partners, and Chris Rezendes, Founder of IoT Impact LABS. While the panelists comprised public sector governance and technology solutions providers, the real takeaway is acknowledging that the convergence of watersheds and IT enables more informed, more defensible decisions.

Save the Dates!

FREE WEBINAR: Delivering Smart Water Solutions in Wastewater Networks, September 20th, 2017 11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT

Join us Wednesday, September 20th at 11 a.m. ET/ 8 a.m. PT for the latest Alliance webinar on Smart Water Solutions in Wastewater Networks. Wastewater services and infrastructure are under increasing strain across North America, dealing with growing challenges due to energy inefficiency, age, combined sewer overflows, staffing, and more. This free webinar will feature speakers from Clean Water Services, CH2M, and DC Water as they highlight strategies and tools to succeed in the implementation of digital solutions that optimize efficiency and unlock opportunities conventional wastewater solutions miss.  

On Nov. 6th, the SWAN North American Alliance will hold its second Annual Utility Workshop in Chicago in collaboration with the the Alliance for Water Efficiency, Current, and Global Water Works. Hosted by Uptake, the event will feature an interactive exploration of innovative, digital solutions to North American water infrastructure challenges with a special focus on the Midwest region. 

Make sure to reserve your spot today! Register here

Take Action!

GET INVOLVED: Join the Alliance Partnership Committee

SWAN is pleased to introduce Dr. Ting Lu of Clean Water Services, a service district for Washington County, Oregon as the new leader of SWAN’s North American Alliance Partnership Group!

“As a water quality professional in water sector, I believe smart system and intelligence provides a lot of value for efficient operation to achieve the watershed outcome. Looking forward to our conversation and building a strong NA Alliance to move the smart water forward!”

A strong partnership is key to advance the smart water system adoption in our industry; the group’s objectives are to:

1. Collaborate with outside organizations to work together on smart system adoption.

2. Increase the involvement of utilities, leading technology firms and academia in SWAN.

3. Create pipeline for smaller companies to break into the market.

4. Form internal partnerships based on focus areas.

5. Seek feedback from partners, involve and support the funded directed research programs.

If you are interested in joining this committee, please e-mail Ting Lu with subject line: SWAN NA Partnership Group Interest.

SWAN RESEARCH PORTAL: Call for Case Studies and Research Papers

The SWAN Research Portal is designed to be an open source for sharing smart water initiatives across the world and bring both innovation and case studies to light across the water community.

If you have any case studies or research you would like to have highlighted in the Research Portal, these can be submitted through the portal

Together we can continue to accelerate the revolution smart technologies are having for water resources preservation, public health protection, efficiency and optimization, and customer engagement.

New Member Spotlight: Welcome Bellevue Water and The Ark Labs

Deputy Director and Smart Water Infrastructure & Technology Project Manager, Bellevue Utilities, City of Bellevue, WA

Interview by Manuel Parra, SWAN’s co-founder and council member and Smart Water General Manager at Schneider Electric.

Bellevue’s Utilities department provides safe and reliable drinking water, wastewater, and storm and surface water services to the 140,000 people of Bellevue, the fifth largest city in the state of Washington, USA.

 Q: How did you learn about SWAN and why did you decide to join?

Andrew Lee (AL): I met Amir Cahn (SWAN’s Executive Director) at ACE 2017 in Philadelphia, where we both were speakers. We chatted about the organization and he followed up afterwards with some information about SWAN. After that, our leadership team met to discuss whether we should participate and the consensus was that there was value in joining an organization where peer utilities are discussing new technologies and their applicability to water.


Q: How do you see the state of new data technologies in the NA water industry?

AL: From the standpoint of having a paradigm of using data to make informed decisions I think the water industry as a whole is quite progressive. The use of sensors to capture and send data to a control system to make operational decisions is nothing new in this industry, as it has been happening for the past thirty or forty years.

Having said this, there are several areas where I see great potential.  First, I think that machine learning is an area of significant large growth in the water industry.  Machine learning involves the use of computers to analyze data and identify patterns that we don’t even know exist. The identification of these hidden patterns together with the inclusion of additional data streams, such as rainfall forecasts, can enable the evolution from reactive systems to more predictive systems. Second, the declining cost of sensors and communications technology will lead to having more sensors in the field and therefore more data that is available for operations.  Finally, I believe there is significant potential for improvement in the integration of water technology systems with other non-water technology systems such as transportation or public safety, for example. This can change the way that communities implement things such as emergency response.

Brian Pugliese (BP): We need all this technology to help us expand the data that today we are getting from our SCADA, our CMMS, our CIS and other systems, and extend it to blend it with other city systems to minimize our downtime and to provide better service to our residents and visitors. All this ties to the smart city concept that we are actively pursuing, which ultimately translates into improving the quality of life of our constituents, which in our case, means being an excellent provider of water, stormwater and wastewater services.


Q: Are there specific challenges that these technologies are helping you address more effectively today?

AL: Asset management is huge for us. Being able to address the current and future condition of our assets is important for us, so we are not replacing our assets too early or too late.

Another important topic is water quality, where we are very focused on monitoring and maintaining our water quality parameters such as chlorine residuals throughout our distribution system.

Leak monitoring and detection, is another area of interest. Even though we do not have a big water loss problem, we expect that our current investment in an AMI system will help us to continue managing our resources effectively. 

Last, we are very focused on emergency response and are in discussion with other agencies in our area about how to deal with earthquake events to make sure that we have a rapid response in case of such an event.


Q: What are your expectations from an organization like SWAN?

BP: Considering that SWAN is an organization of leading technology companies and water agencies around the world, it is a great place to reach out to companies that come with a similar perspective to that of ours and to learn from others that have applied these technologies to their day-to-day operations. So, we expect to contribute to and draw from the benefits of networking and information sharing that will come from the interaction between the industry and the public sector.

AL: As a smaller agency, we do not necessarily have the number or depth of resources that larger agencies have to pilot or try certain things. For this reason, when we start thinking about a new project, the first thing that we do is to find out what others are doing. Being part of this network gives us great access to learn what is happening, who is doing it, and then use the relevant bits of information to define our next steps.


Q: Tell us something that our members should know about your city.

BP: Bellevue is known as a City in a Park. We have one hundred parks in 37 square miles. Bellevue rivals other cities as a high-tech hub.  Companies such as T-Mobile, Microsoft, and REI among many others have established key offices here.

A Q&A with ROBBIE HILLIS, CEO and Founder, The Ark Labs

Interview by Alliance Outreach Committee Member, Mary Conley Eggert, Founder and Chief Innovation Officer, Global Water Works.

Robbie Hillis is the CEO and Founder of The Ark Labs, a corporation headquartered in Florence, Alabama and focused on applying machine learning solutions to help homeowners and commercial property managers get smart about their water use. 

Q:  You spent the majority of your career in marketing and education. What prompted the move into water?

A: My daughter left the faucet on, and we discovered it 3,500 gallons later.  When I realized what had happened and that I never wanted it to happen again, I went online to find a solution to help us detect and prevent similar incidents. I found very little on the market or in the patent office, so we gathered a team of product design, manufacturing and machine learning experts and created DRiY.


Q: Tell us about your technology?  How does DRiY work?

A: DRiY is a smart monitoring device packed with a remote shutoff valve that is empowered by artificial intelligence software. We say that “DRiY learns your water.” What we mean by that is we continually average, and every time the water flows, we go to the server, and compare it all. If it doesn’t look normal, it sends an alert and enables you to take action. As an example, I got an alert at 37K ft. above the Atlantic through the wifi on my plane as I was heading home to Alabama. I texted my wife to ask why the water use was so high and learned the kids had the day off of school.  Knowing that they were at home, and she was doing the wash, I didn’t automate the shut-off.


Q: Your company name is unique… Any reference to a bigger flood?

A: Exactly.  We wanted to be different, and to reinforce our value. The Ark Labs refers to Noah’s ARK. Our hope is that The Ark Labs’ affordable smart water monitoring system can save you from the flood.


Q: What do you hope to gain from SWAN?

A: We don’t know who we don’t know, and SWAN can bring people to the table who have been there before. We can learn from those who’ve paid what we affectionately call the “dumb tax,” and we can help fellow members avoid the same.


Q: What should our members know about the Ark Labs so we can better collaborate? 

A: There are lots of things.  While we were designed to provide early alerts to floods or leaks, our analytics and reports also enable us to focus on efficiency. When you have a leaky toilet or a faucet, or you have an industrial situation that looks different from your normal water use, we can provide visibility into that.  We are addressing the fact that we are wasting a lot of water – approximately 10,000 gallons a year/household – according to current statistics.


Q: Any lessons learned in your “waterpreneurship” journey that might help others in SWAN? 

A: Yes. Clean tech is making a push into the mainstream, and there is nothing wrong with being next to an app that manages your personal finances at events. We are pitching at the world’s largest tech start-up events, and don’t just think water. There were 1500 technology products at a conference we recently attended, and only 3 related to water. We are positioning ourselves as a cool technology company that happens to deal with water.


Q: What gets you excited about working in water? 

A: There is so much opportunity out there… We are receiving new inquiries weekly, and we want to help put water at the forefront of people’s conversations in the same way energy is at the forefront of people’s conversation. That means giving people visibility into their water use – making them smart about water – and SWAN is helping to orchestrate that on a global scale.  

Meet SWAN North American Alliance Members at WEFTEC:

clean water services
GE Water

Plus, don’t miss the SWAN panel session moderated by SWAN Executive Director Amir Cahn!

Title: Intelligent Water Systems: SWAN Wastewater Network Management Tool

Location: Innovation Pavilion Theater, Booth 7739

Date: Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Time: 12:30 – 12:55 pm

This session will introduce the SWAN Wastewater Network Management Tool Solution. The tool identifies data-driven solutions to your specific wastewater network challenges. Navigate through an interactive solution diagram and drill-down on particular technologies to view their functions, benefits, and system requirements. Global utility case studies and a high-level benefit analysis will be presented. http://www.swan-tool.com/wastewater-network-management

For exhibit floor plan, conference program and more info about WEFTEC visit the event website.

Upcoming Member/Partner Events

SWAN partner, Isle Utilities and WaterStart will be hosting the 2nd Annual Channels for Innovation Summit on Friday, October 6, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. This year’s theme, “The Case for Innovation,” will showcase the results of successful pilot projects, including perspectives from both the end-user and the solution provider. To register, click here.

SWAN member, Sensus, a Xylem brand, is holding its annual Sensus ReachSM Conference from October 22 – 25, 2017 in Dallas, Texas.  The event brings together more than 1,000 utility professionals, industry analysts and consultants to share best practices and vision for water, gas and electric utilities as well as explore the impact on and opportunities for utilities presented by the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Smart Cities movements. To register, click here.

We greatly value your feedback, please let us know if you have any questions or comments.

Email:  info@swan-forum.com