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Current 2018 Innovators Forum

It may be riskier for water utilities "not take the digital journey" than to dive in and begin realizing the promise of intelligent water solutions. This is one of the many insights that resonated with attendees at Current's second annual Innovators Forum. The event, held during the Water Environment Foundation’s Annual Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC) on October 2 in New Orleans, brought together 150 of the industry’s leading innovators, investors, and end-users for an afternoon of compelling panel discussions and lively roundtable sessions on "The Intelligent Water Transformation" – this year’s event theme.

The first panel, moderated by Will Sarni, Founder and CEO of Water Foundry, featured a fascinating discussion about smart water solutions among the industry’s biggest names. Panelists included Al Cho, VP and General Manager, Advanced Infrastructure Analytics, Xylem; Snehal Desai, Executive Vice President, Chief Growth Officer, Evoqua Water Technologies; Ralph Exton, Chief Commercial Officer, SUEZ – Water Technologies & Solutions; Ari Raivetz, Chief Executive Officer, Organica Water; and Cindy Wallis-Lage, President, Water Business, Black & Veatch.

Key insights from panel one:

  • Digital solutions can enable the deployment of decentralized 21st century technologies that can improve performance, provide greater confidence in system information, and deliver greater certainty through data analytics.
  • The era of annual water quality reports is over as digital solutions enable the disintermediation of information with increased quality and quantity of information creating transparency across the water value chain, providing customers real-time data.
  • Communities severed by utilities that adopt intelligent water management solutions may see more reliable and affordable service than those served by utilities that are slow to smart water technologies.

Terry Mah of The Malabar Group moderated the second panel on end-user perspectives on deploying intelligent water solutions featuring: Debra Coy, Partner, XPV Water Partners; Todd Fein, Chief Executive Officer, Green Diamond; Biju George, Chief Operating Officer, DC Water.

Key insights from panel two:

  • Digital solutions can drive overall efficiency in utilities, including achieving cost savings, improving customer engagement, and provide greater insights into the market.
  • Data-driven insights can help reveal and define the real value of water.
  • Both end-users and vendors must share technology risk by mitigating and managing it. Procuring digital solutions can be confusing, as many utilities do not necessarily know how to buy these technologies or to sort through jungle of innovation. 

Following the panels, the event featured ten roundtable discussions on smart water topics, hosted by trailblazing innovators: Artificial Intelligence (hosted by EMAGIN); Asset Management Software (hosted by AqMB and Innovyze); Blockchain & Crypto (hosted by WaterChain); Customer Experience & Engagement (hosted by Gigi Karmous-Edwards); Cyber Security (hosted by Rockwell Automation and WIN-911); DNA Science & Technology (hosted by FREDsense and Microbe Detectives); Leak Detection (hosted by Mueller); Optimization & Analytics (hosted by IOSight and Optimatics); Remote Sensing (hosted by AMS); and Smart Devices (hosted by Accredent and GrayMatter). Insights from the roundtables will be featured on our blog – check-back soon!

This year’s Innovators Forum could not have been possible without the generosity of our sponsors: Capstone Headwaters, Greeley and Hansen, IOSight, Nalco Water, Organica Water, SUEZ – Water Technologies & Solutions, Water Foundry, and Wells Fargo.

Interested in learning more? Contact Steve Frenkel at sfrenkel@currentwater.org if you would like to participate in our next Innovators Forum in Chicago, Tuesday, September 24, 2019.

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