The New Smart Water Network

Have you ever been in a car accident where you were the one at fault? If so, you probably thought back about what you could have done to avoid it. You may have asked yourself, ?Did I make a bad decision?? or ?Could I have done something differently, and if so, could the accident have been avoided??

What if you could predict the outcome of such events before they happened? Wouldn?t it be nice to know that a particular decision could be potentially harmful before making it? To some, that may sound like something out of a futuristic movie, but in reality, the same principles can be applied to water utilities and how they manage assets and make operational decisions.

Oftentimes utilities are required to make impactful decisions, such as closing valves or turning pumps on or off without fully knowing the level of potential risk involved. With innovative technology emerging in every facet of the water sector, utilities are now looking to apply innovative solutions to minimize impact and avoid that risk. The Indio Water Authority?s use of a new software tool, Sedarū, is one example of innovation that is bringing utilities out of the dark and taking the guesswork out of the equation.

Forming a Partnership

The Indio Water Authority (IWA) in Indio, Calif., has a serviceterritory of approximately 38 sq miles, servicing about 21,300 accounts. The utility operates in a dry climate with little elevation difference in its service area, and its managers and operators are proactive in water conservation efforts and providing adequate service to consumers.

Three years ago, IWA was looking to implement an asset management software system and was shopping different vendors. According to Luis Cardenas, engineer with IWA, many of the asset management systems the utility was looking at had their strengths, but they all seemed to be falling short in terms of being user friendly and, specifically, with data integration and analysis.

Before that time, IWA had worked on developing a hydraulic model based on its GIS with IDModeling, a global smart water network service company, delivering water/wastewater modeling solutions. Hydraulic modeling tools essentially allow utilities to understand the impact, consequence and the outcome of their decisions before they are made. IWA was impressed with the job IDModeling did and felt the company had a good handle on GIS and innovative technology for both operational efficiency and risk management.

That?s when IWA and IDModeling got together to collaborate on their idea of creating a custom solution for field crews that would be easy to use and that could be streamlined to allow for more efficient maintenance, information analysis and operational risk management. The effort was spearheaded by Cardenas and IDModeling Founder, President and CEO Paul Hauffen. Cardenas and Hauffen felt there was potential in teaming up to try to develop a tool that could analyze and apply information from IWA?s systems that generally posed challenges.???

?We wanted a product that could help us make decisions,? Cardenas said. ?We?re a small- to medium-sized organization and we don?t have a lot of analysts that could sift through all the data and analyze it.? According to Cardenas, the goal was that this information would be factored into capital investments for the utility.

Sedarū

The result of Cardenas? and Hauffen?s collaboration was Sedarū, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) that brings water data analytics together within a single platform and persists a real-time connection that can be accessed from both office and mobile devices. Sedarū is an acronym for the phrase, See Data Run, and allows water utilities to apply institutional knowledge with shared, analyzed data.

Management personnel at a water utility can use Sedarū to monitor key performance indicators and communicate from their tablets or smart phones, and engineers can then use this information to anticipate events and coordinate prioritized action for operations. Operations and maintenance personnel can use real-time and predictive alerts and use GIS mapping to address water quality issues, energy use and emergency events. Customer service can also use Sedarū to communicate with field activity to provide proactive, informed answers to customers.

IDModeling, which stands for Infrastructure Data Modeling, has been offering hydraulic modeling solutions for water and wastewater utilities as an engineering consulting company since 2004. In July 2013, after two years in development, IDModeling released Sedarū as a product. Since released, Sedarū has established utility customers in states nationwide.??

?Coming from a hydraulic modeling background and having worked with the different water departments that contribute to a utility?s water model, it was a natural evolution to create Sedarū,? said Hauffen, who has 20 years of experience in the water industry, primarily in software, technology and consulting for hydraulic modeling. ?This is a solution where utilities can access the information they need in real time, collaborate and communicate with their peers all in a connected environment, and at the same time, within an engine and a platform that allows them to understand the consequence and the risk of a decision before they make it.

?Sedarū creates a smart water network for any utility, with very little risk and overhead on their part, and without the costly capital requirements of needing sensors to feed a live network. We leverage people as the utility sensors and complement that input with modeling to create a fully monitored system. Sedarū is ready to enable the sensored utility, and this real-time data will only enhance its analysis capabilities.?

One of most notable capabilities of Sedarū is that it has the ability to connect multiple software systems and channel the information into a single interface ? the result of which has led IDModeling to form partnerships with other technology companies and industry standard formats including Cityworks maintenance management, Neptune AMR/AMI, ESRI and EPANet.
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Indio Water: Using Sedarū to Its Potential
IWA, in addition to being the utility that helped contribute to the vision of Sedarū, was also the first adopter of the system.

Since IWA?s implementation of Sedarū, IDModeling has been working with the utility to advance its functionality. IWA is currently using Sedarū as a connected solution with touch points to maximize its Cityworks maintenance management software and SCADA system, access and leverage hydraulic model data, and, is currently in the process of rolling out water meter data connection points using Neptune?s AMR/AMI system.??

?There?s a real need for efficient workflows around work management so utilities can access and leverage this condition-based information for more insight into the operating status of their system,? said Hauffen. ?Indio has also leveraged that feature set within Sedarū, where they are deploying information to the field and field crews are able to communicate with the office, understand office needs, collect work against their assets and correlate that data for decision making much more efficiently and proactively than they?ve ever been able to before.??

On the utility management end, Luis Cardenas said the capabilities of Sedarū allow for more comprehensive organization and analysis of the system and said one of the advantages is in determining needed projects based on accurate analysis of assets.?

?All the jobs we do ? repairs and maintenance ? they?re all geocoded,? said Cardenas. ?The intent is that IDModeling is building in analysis based on location and is going to create [maps] that show problem areas and critical customers, and provide GIS data based on information on assets.

?Basically [this allows us] to see what projects are going to bring the most benefit to the most people and the projects that will be justifiable [to take on], whereas before, we just kind of brainstormed as a group what we thought were needed projects. Now it?s all going to be data-based and data driven.???

Cardenas said the utility?s current use of Sedarū continues to evolve and the utility is still looking forward to additional functionality for water system simulations. ?It (Sedarū) makes it easy for anyone to run ?what if? scenarios,? he said. ?You don?t need a dedicated water model to run complicated software. I think once that functionality goes live, our production and operations will benefit.?

Andrew Farr is associate editor of UIM.

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