SWAN Conference 2022: review

Date: 18/07/22 | In: Blog

At the end of May we attended the SWAN (Smart Water Networks Forum) Conference 2022 in Washington. Our main reason for heading across the Atlantic to take part in the SWAN Conference was to forge relationships with our peers and water companies in the US. It provided us with an unrivalled opportunity to meet, converse and share ideas, face-to-face, with likeminded industry professionals; something we’ve all missed out on over the last few years due to Covid restrictions.

A great platform for meeting new (and old!) contacts

Over the course of the conference, we took part in two different seminars: Data as a Service (DaaS) and Digital Twinning. What a great platform for meeting international, UK and US contacts to discuss these fascinating topics!

One of the most interesting facts we discovered during the course of the conference is highlighted in the photograph below. US water utilities are set up very differently to here in the UK. We were able to explore how the US wastewater network is split up and it was quite an eyeopener to say the least.

 An abundance of water companies

There are over 35,000 water companies operating in the US in stark comparison to just 11 across England and Wales. 99.1% of those water companies serve a population of less than 100,000 and 64.8% serve less than 1,000 people. This results in a totally different model and led us to ask the question: how does your water company work? The answers were varied but what was abundantly clear, from a commercial perspective, was that each water company would only ever need a handful of monitors rather than the 1000s we install, maintain and analyse data from for our UK customers.

Monitor rental and DaaS

We had the chance to further discuss this key insight in the DaaS seminar. The resulting conversations will see us work on further developing our DaaS proposition which will consist of options for water companies to rent Detectronic monitors which we will install and maintain on their behalf. We will then provide the utility with the specific data they require to deliver smart network monitoring. This is an ideal, highly cost-effective monitoring model for the US and potentially here the UK – watch this space for more details.

Digital Twinning

The Digital Twinning seminar was also incredibly interesting since it is an area we’ve been working in for several years now – it’s what smart network monitoring is all about and is an excellent ‘try before you buy’ sales tool for us monitoring specialists.

By making a digital twin of a customer’s network, we are able to test real-life scenarios within the system, work out what will happen and learn from it. By using rainfall data, dry & wet weather and climate change patterns, we can develop algorithms and simulate certain events and fully understand and ultimately predict how networks will respond. We created a basic digital twin for a client’s Scope system several years ago which provided an invaluable insight and answered many ‘what happens if?’ scenario questions.

It was very exciting to see how this area of the industry is developing and how new innovations are shaping the future and helping us to improve digital twinning. We look forward to playing an active role in their development.

LIDoTT in action at the conference venue

Before heading to SWAN, we got in touch with the facilities director at the Washington Marriott Georgetown to ask if we could install a LIDoTT Smart in the wastewater outlet close to the hotel’s kitchens. The answer was a resounding ‘yes’!

Whilst in the city, we kept a close eye on the data the monitor generated and quickly noticed that, after the kitchens closed at midnight, a continuous discharge occurred throughout the night. This happened every night and pointed at a leak somewhere in the network.

The facilities director had no idea that this was happening and, with the reports we have given him, he is now looking at costings against the inflow and will be consulting with the relevant wastewater company in relation to trade effluent charges.

We also worked with RUN, a local company that delivers network monitoring in the region, who installed another LIDoTT in the sewer network in Baltimore for us. And we’d like to thank Jacobs for allowing us to demonstrate the LIDoTT on their stand at the conference and further enhance their Dynamic Network Monitoring (DNM) capabilities. It was great to see the team from Space Age Labs, Singapore too and take a closer look at some exceptional software packages they have been working on recently.

In summary

“The four days we spent in Washington at SWAN were both beneficial and hugely insightful from a variety of perspectives. We made some excellent new contacts and built on several existing relationships, particularly with some of our contacts at United Utilities and Anglian Water. It was an excellent conference that we would highly recommend attending – we look forward to returning in 2023!”

In October we return to the US to exhibit at WEFTEC in New Orleans. We’re looking forward to sharing our newest addition to the LIDoTT range and provide more details on our DaaS models. See you there!!