SWAN North American Alliance Newsletter – Spring 2017

Marc Bracken, Chairman’s Corner

Dear SWAN North America Alliance Members,

I have attended the SWAN Conference every year since its inception, so I have personally seen its evolution into the leading conference focused specifically on Smart Water. The event provides a unique forum in which attendees can exchange ideas and current practices. It is now attended by a who’s who of Smart Water technology companies, and many of the most innovative water companies, from both the public and private sectors.

This year’s conference at the Tower Hotel in London had the highest quality of content in the Smart Water area that I have seen in not only a SWAN conference, but in any other conference. Throughout the two-day event, we welcomed 220 attendees from 31 countries, making this SWAN’s largest event with a truly global audience. Nearly 20 international water utilities spoke, as well as top technology firms, emerging startups, researchers, and leading academia.


Finally, I am pleased to offer everyone a sneak peek to our next upcoming SWAN North America Webinar, Boosting Adoption of Smart Water Networks through Policy taking place Thursday, June 8th at 11am EDT/8am PDT.  Policy, is a very timely topic given the current political turbulence and ongoing uncertainty around the EPA. We will have speakers from the EPA, West Monroe Partners, IoT Impact Labs, and EmNet. The Webinar will be looking at some practical case studies of how Smart Water solutions can both influence and drive policy. I hope everyone will be able to join us.


Alliance Update

WEBINAR: “Promoting a Data-Enabled Smart Water Future”

On Nov. 1, 2016, the SWAN North American Alliance held its first webinar, “Promoting a Data-Enabled Smart Water Future,” led by Frost & Sullivan, featuring speakers from DC Water, the EPA, GE Water, and SWAN. The webinar focused on the opportunity for smart solutions across the North American water market. Panelists shared success stories and discussed “Guidance for Designing Communications Systems for Water Quality Surveillance and Response,” a special EPA Report.


WORKSHOP: More than 200 attend first North American Workshop

The SWAN North American Alliance and Cleantech San Diego co-hosted the first Smart Water North American Workshop, “Tapping Technologies for Water Utilities” at Qualcomm’s headquarters in San Diego on Jan. 25, 2017.

The event drew 200 water utility and technology leaders together  to discuss the challenges and opportunities associated with integrating data-driven technologies across the North American water sector.

Keynotes on the state of the industry were provided by:

  • Michal Koenig, Senior Director, Product Management, Qualcomm Technologies and Ananth Krishan, CTO, Tata Consultancy Services (Click through to Keynote: http://bit.ly/SWAN_Keynote1) and
  • Dave Stanton, President, Utility Segment, SUEZ North America (Click to Keynote: http://bit.ly/SWAN_Keynote2)

Presentations and a complete recording of the day are now downloadable and viewable here.

Take Action!

SWAN RESEARCH PORTAL: Call for Research and Case Studies

The smart water industry is rapidly transforming the way that water is managed in the world. As an organization dedicated to supporting innovation in and adoption of smart water technologies and services, SWAN is pleased to announce the launch of the new SWAN Research Portal!

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 directly 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.

GET INVOLVED: Join the Alliance Research Committee

The Research Portal is a key initiative of the SWAN North America Research group whose goals are to:

1.  Increase the involvement of utilities, technologies and academia in SWAN.

2.  Expand SWAN’s clearinghouse or information dissemination portal to North American utilities.

3.  Create the environment and dialogue for research into smart water in North America.

4.  Facilitate access to data sets, utilities, technologies for research and increase awareness of research and development needs and activities in the smart water field.

5.  Define the relationship and key differentiators of SWAN RG vis-à-vis other organizations.  Participate in and influence these organizations to adopt projects and strategies supporting the advancement of smart water research.

6.  Define the relationship with Technology Incubators & Accelerators

7.  Develop funded directed research programs

If you are interested in joining this committee, please e-mail: Graham Symmonds

New Member Spotlight: Welcome American Water and Optimatics

Innovation Director, American Water

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

With a history dating back to 1886, American Water is the largest and most geographically diverse U.S. publicly-traded water and wastewater utility company. The company employs more than 6,800 dedicated professionals who provide regulated and market-based drinking water, wastewater and other related services to an estimated 15 million people in 47 states and Ontario, Canada.


 Q: How did you learn about SWAN? 

A: I first learned about SWAN in 2011 when I met Guy Horowitz, a founding member of SWAN.  I had just taken on the role of innovation within American Water, and I was glad to meet up with another group of individuals who shared a similar focus.


Q: Why did you and American Water elect to join SWAN?

A: American Water was looking for an opportunity to learn what others were doing in the area of smart water. 


Q: Innovation is a hot topic, and you’re typically the one asked to speak about it.  Can you tell us a little bit more about your approach?

A: Our 7-step innovation process starts with business intelligence. We identify the needs and interests of our business units, and focus our efforts on addressing those needs, as I mentioned at the SWAN North American Workshop (now on YouTube)

SWAN colleagues are among the technology partners American Water discusses in the new Water Research Foundation’s report, “Fostering Innovation in Water Utilities.”


Q: What should our members know about American Water?

A: American Water is the largest publicly traded utility in the United States.  We serve 15 million people with 300 water treatment facilities and 200 wastewater treatment facilities – close to 5% of the U.S. retail water market.

Due to our corporate structure, each of the state affiliate companies acts somewhat independently.  Each state affiliate company has rates and rules set by local public utility commissions.  Introducing new technologies into American Water is best done through the corporate innovation group so that it can be broadcast throughout the organization.

Tom Ferguson, SWAN NA Alliance member and Vice President of Programming at ImagineH20, expressed his team’s appreciation of the innovator’s approach: “Paul’s insight and experience has been entirely indispensable to the success of Imagine H2O since 2009. We rely on Paul to guide us through the perspective of the utility so we can find companies that address real urgent, painful problems.”


Q: What keeps you excited about working in water?

A: I find the water business is one industry that has it all:

  • A sense of purpose as you are part of a team that is providing a life essential. 
  • There is a plethora of detailed knowledge about water, wastewater and treatment options.
  • There is a great deal of innovation and product development occurring. 
  • There is a lot of investment in the industry right. 
  • There are a lot of issues to be solved, and a great deal of satisfaction in advancing solutions.

Q: What recommendation do you have for new entrants to the profession?

 A: The water business is very exciting right now. There is a great alignment of available and developing technology and identified need in water. Older, more experienced employees are retiring. The need for a new type of employee is arising.  Water is one business that will not go away, and today’s technologies are enabling us to get smarter and more efficient about how we manage it. 

VP Global Sales of Optimatics

Interview by Alliance Outreach Committee Member, Becca Fong, Business Development Manager of KISTERS North America.

Optimatics was founded in 1996 based on research from the University of Adelaide in South Australia. Since that time, consultants in Australia and the U.K.– places known for adopting innovation — have helped utilities with financial and operational stewardship. In 2015, Optimatics were honored to receive the Global Water Award for Performance Innovation (for the SA Water Distribution Optimisation Tool).


Q: How did you learn about SWAN? 

A: Optimatics has been participating in WEFTEC for several years. Last year we had a booth in the Innovation Pavilion, where the SWAN North America alliance had its official launch… but this wasn’t our first exposure to SWAN. In fact our first round investor, Emerald Ventures, is an initial member of the SWAN Forum. Optimatics recently received a second round of investment from SUEZ, which is also active in leadership of the Smart Water Networks Forum.

Q: Why did Optimatics elect to join SWAN?

A: The alignment of SWAN and Optimatics is thought leadership. We’ve been applying “smart technology” – intelligent, advanced analysis and optimization modeling — to high-level water utility planning for about 20 years.   


Q: What challenges does this industry face that SWAN can best help address?

A: For starters, communication and creating the space for collaborators. In North America specifically, utilities have had limited access to innovation.  Often, such access is a chance encounter at a tradeshow or reading a feature in an industry magazine.  Within the past five years, executives and management have started to open the door to conversation direct from the marketplace, and regulators have been pushing innovation so utilities can be environmentally responsible, deliver a safe product, and provide better customer service at an affordable price.

Further, SWAN can provide education. Optimatics is currently working on a wastewater toolkit. A water one is already available. SWAN also serves to validate claims of start-ups that want to benefit from the same buzz and only have (unproven) concepts.


Q: What should our members know about Optimatics for better collaboration?

The Our Amazon cloud-based Optimatics engine runs a variety of simulation models (hydraulic, asset management, HEC-RAS, etc.) to produce several outcomes that achieve desired results at lowest possible costs. This innovation ultimately focuses on professional development of staff and real CAPEX, OPEX value — not widgets.


Q: What keeps you excited about working in water?

A: I’ve been involved in water for more than 25 years, doing good for the planet… but the industry is now in an exciting, start-up mode and I look forward to seeing innovation keep water affordable and safe.

Meet SWAN Members at ACE17 in Philadelphia:

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Schneider Electric

For the exhibit floor plan, conference program and more info about ACE17 visit the event website

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

Email:  info@swan-forum.com