Water: How Norway Will Solve the Industry’s Big Problems Through Data, AI, and Sensors
In Norway, 30% of water is getting lost on the way to the consumer.
Water loss is just one of many challenges Norway and the world face when it comes to water supply. Under a business-as-usual scenario, the World Economic Forum estimates that by 2030 there will be a 40% gap between water supply and water demand.
Not surprisingly, the UN has set important Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on clean water and sanitation.
Jon Røstum, Chief Strategist at Volue Infrastructure, is keen to help water utilities supply clean water to everyone and ultimately deliver on the SDGs. But instead of digging underground, he is examining data on his large computer screen in the city of Trondheim.
“There are many challenges facing the water industry in Norway and internationally. The digitalisation of water is a window of opportunity to solve big problems through data, AI, and sensors,” says Røstum.
Over the next three years, his team will revolutionise the water industry with the help of funding from Innovation Norway, the country’s most important instrument for innovation and development of Norwegian enterprises and industry.
“The funding from Innovation Norway clearly shows that this work is seen as relevant and innovative.”
Water digitalisation as a solution
As a pioneer of digital water technology in the Nordics, Jon Røstum wants to go all the way from utilizing real-time data from the water system to compiling this data in a smart way using machine learning and making sense of it.
Contextualised real-time data can answer many questions.
“The wastewater system can have too much water due to infiltration and inflow. The question would be where the water is coming from. Too much water is not sustainable. You have to pump, you are wasting energy. Or if you have a wastewater pumping station, the question would be how to identify pumps with poor performance.”
“Based on the data from the pumping station, you can do proactive maintenance. You can do something before the pumps fail.”
More than 12,000 professionals in Norway alone use Volue's existing cloud solutions to maximise resources and profit.
“We are an important part of the critical supply chain infrastructure. It’s the utilities who are responsible for the water supply and wastewater services, and they need our help with digital solutions. We will now start putting the pieces of the puzzle together to learn something we didn’t know before in order to become more sustainable."
The 3-step approach to water digitalisation
Volue clients, such as the second largest Norwegian city Bergen, are working on utilising real-time data.
Cities have masses of real-time data from IoT sensors and SCADA systems in the water infrastructure.
“The real-time data is not our data, it’s the customer’s data but we can make it available and make sense of it. Normally, this data is in silos because these are separate systems. We need to bring this real-time data together and utilise it,” says Røstum.
With a doctorate in water distribution systems from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Røstum and his team have developed a 3-step approach to working with real-time data.
As a first step, his team will obtain access to the real-time data in a safe and secure way and connect it to the data stream. Cybersecurity is very important here. Volue’s strategy is to develop a SaaS solution.
“When you work with real-time data, you have to use it in a safe and secure way. We all remember when back in January a water treatment plant in Florida was hacked, including their SCADA system, and the operator observed that someone external was taking over the system.”
As a second step, the team will put the data in the context of the water infrastructure and the data will become available in Volue’s solutions.
“Our customers think this is very useful when they are out in the field. They can look at the data on their mobile devices. This empowers people working in the field."
As a third step, the team will work with machine learning to solve water losses in the water distribution system.
Most of all, the team wants to make sure that what they are developing is useful for the water companies. “How is our solution solving the Sustainable Development Goals on clean water and sanitation?"
Twice a year, the team will meet with the water companies to share progress on the project.
“We want to ensure that what we are developing is as useful as possible not just for Norway but for the entire world.”