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Blog 23.06.2021

Data, digitalization and IoT transform water management in Nokia's leading company project

The shifting availability of raw water, fluctuating customer demand and new societal expectations of sustainability make water management more challenging than ever. Nokia solves these issues in their leading company project.
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Stephen Major

Stephen is currently working within the Digital Industries unit of Nokia Cloud and Network Services, focusing on developing solutions and services to assist energy clients in addressing changing community and customer expectations considering the new disruptions within the industry, enabling clients to adapt and grow their businesses. Stephen has over 20 years' experience working within the utilities industry specializing in operational technology (OT) systems, information and mission critical communications technology (ICT), asset management, smart grid application development and the design and delivery of complex systems.

Utilities in smart and sustainable water management need flexible and dynamic solutions that let them innovate and adapt. Digitalization can provide that – but digital solutions require careful architecting to ensure they don't add complexity instead of taking it away. That calls for a more open, flexible industrial internet of things (IIoT) approach.

As if growing demands weren't enough, utilities are also under pressure to minimize capital expenditures. Often that means extending the life of assets, which can all too easily lead to a long-term under-investment and, ultimately, acute infrastructure hazards such as water and sewage overflows that squander valuable resources and put public health and the environment at risk.

Attractive global market requires wide collaboration

The new Smart Water Management (SWIM) initiative as part of Nokia's leading company project addresses these challenges by means such as co-creation and standardisation. The global smart water network market is estimated to be about USD 22 billion and to grow by 6-18% annually, depending on the sector. Therefore, ecosystem collaboration is essential.

In SWIM ecosystem the following ecosystem partners work intensively together to create new capabilities for the global market: Abloy Oy, EHP Environment Oy, Keypro Oy, PipeLife Finland Oy, AQVA.IO Oy, Hurja Solutions Oy, Vercon Oy, Fluidit Oy, Ramboll Finland Oy, City of Kuopio, Kuopas Oy, Neuroflux Oy, Elisa Oyj, ALVA yhtiöt Oy, Turun Vesihuolto, Kuopio Water, HSY Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority, Kymi Water, Finnish Water Utilities Association (FIWA), Nokia, VTT Oy, Savonia University of Applied Sciences, and Finnish Water Forum.

In addition, the advisory board consist of the following organizations: Wroclaw University of Science and Technology (PL), MPWiK Wrocław (PL), ZWiK Szczecin (PL), Aquafin (BE), Yarra Valley Water, Melbourne (AU), and Monash University (AU).

Data and digitalization open a whole new world of capabilities

A data-driven approach empowers utilities to digitally transform their businesses while cost-effectively adding value for customers. More open, flexible systems can be deployed to deliver efficient, standards-based visibility and control, enabling water management automation with the help of virtual information and contextual overlays. Smart water applications can be deployed across the operations lifecycle – for leakage control, pressure management, water efficiency, re-use of grey water, rainwater and effluent, water conservation and demand management.

These advances can massively increase productivity and speed up utilities' adoption of emerging technologies to support more flexible, collaborative and adaptive business processes. But they can also bring serious headaches in the form of added complexity without the right architecture to support them – backed by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to drive virtual asset operations with automated self-calibration, operation and sensor-to-sensor communication.

Right now, the world needs flexible and resilient water systems. As a participant in the Nokia's Unlocking Industrial 5G Program (i.e. Nokia's leading company project) and via Smart Water Management project, Nokia is proving in a real-world scenario how new Low Power Wide Area Narrow Band (LPWA NB)-IoT communications and open standards-based digital platforms can transform water utilities and deliver on the promise of IIoT and automation.

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