Archive for May, 2012
The 2nd annual SWAN conference took place earlier this week in Utrecht, Netherlands, with the warm hospitality of Vitens. For the second time, smart water experts and pioneers representing the entire value-chain – water utilities, technology vendors, integrators, consultants, analysts and investors – gathered for 2 days of intensive discussions on the present and future of water networks.
If last year, when we gathered for the first time, the dominant question was ‘what are smart networks?’, this year it appears that there is less uncertainty around the definitions – and the significance – of the space. Two of the leading industry analysts, Greg Neichin from the Cleantech Group, and Seth Cutler from Frost & Sullivan, laid down inclusive frameworks and shared market figures leaving very little room for doubt as to the basic fact – Smart Water Networks are the direction in which all water utilities in the world are headed.Some utilities are doing it today, and we have heard from utilities in the US, the UK, Denmark, the Netherlands and Spain on their strategies and activities (and one must say – each of them is approaching it from a different direction, depending on their challenges and needs). Others are still in ‘wait and see’ mode, and we spent considerable time in the conference talking about what would get them to adopt smart water network technologies.
Last month I had the honor and pleasure of being the guest of the vice mayor of Tianjin, China, Mr. Ren Xuefeng whom I met at Davos 2012.
Tianjin, located in the north of China is one of the fastest growing cities in China maintaining an annual growth rate of nearly 30% of the GDP of China. It boasts an international harbor and well-known for its historical and cultural heritage. It is home to the oldest university in China and one of the most prestigious universities as well as, 285 Fortune 500 companies’ branch offices.