Utilities and Tech: Partnering the Way to Success

technology and people
By Quinn Jackson-Elliott

When public water utilities look to upgrade their infrastructure or provide more modern services to customers, there are plenty of technology companies knocking at their door, each offering new ways to shape or revolutionize the water industry.

And while there’s a lot of great technology out there for utilities to consider, the decision to select a solutions provider is more involved than simply choosing from among the latest innovations. Today’s water utilities need more than just a deal with a technology vendor. For utilities to reach their strategic goals, they must seek out technology companies who not only offer innovative solutions but are laser-focused on becoming all-in, fully-integrated partners with solutions specific to a city’s needs.

A modern partnership between public utilities and private companies selling the technology they use involves shared risks and costs, and must be accompanied by clearly defined outcomes for success. Rather than create restrictions, entering a partnership with everyone’s cards on the table allows tech companies to provide tailored solutions for utilities, and the utilities themselves to better meet their objectives.

Every city has unique problems relating to infrastructure needs, resource constraints, and water scarcity, and requires innovative solutions. New ideas and technology are needed across the industry from treatment and distribution to customer-facing initiatives.

For example, Olea Edge Analytics offers a Meter Health Analytics solution as a sensor-to-data visualization platform that continuously delivers insights into the health of a large commercial or industrial meter. This data informs repair and maintenance teams of necessary actions needed to ensure meter accuracy. However, Olea’s innovation partnerships extend beyond the company’s standard product offering. By deepening cooperation, collaboration, and communication, Olea is able to provide an array of solutions to utilities to aid in asset management, meter vault management, meter reading and billing and customer satisfaction, all tailored to the specific challenges a given city is facing.

Innovative, personalized partnerships like these allow cities to maximize their budgets and take advantage of the economies of scale that private companies can provide. By shifting operational expenses and other capital investments to the private sector, utilities ease the tax burden on residents and avoid unexpected rate increases.

For example, Olea Edge, within a period of three months, was able to identify over one million dollars in recoverable revenue for the City of Atlanta’s Department of Watershed Management by highlighting just 10 meters that needed repairs. The partnership between Olea and Atlanta expanded to include hundreds more meters; in less than 12 months they identified another $10 million in potential revenue.

Tech companies, working with commercial water systems and the water distribution system itself, can serve the greater good. A tightly integrated partnership allows people to pay for what they’re consuming in a fair and equitable manner. That doesn’t just provide more dollars to the overall budget, it provides more stability to the water system.

Successful partnerships are built on a foundation of cooperation, commitment, and effective communication. This is extremely important for both entities to continue to work together to innovate and advance the tools the utility has at its disposal and enhance the success of both parties.

Quinn Jackson Elliott

Quinn Jackson-Elliott is vice president of government relations for Olea Edge Analytics. She has a diverse business background with experience in government, consulting, client services and utility management. In her current role, she focuses on revenue recovery, asset management and operational efficiency to achieve results. She has a passion for helping water utilities solve problems by integrating technology as a key component of utility management.

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