Your Data Can Stop Leaks

January 7, 2013 at 8:20 am Leave a comment

This is the fourth post in the “CTO Smart Water Insights” by Haggai Scolnicov, TaKaDu’s CTO.

I went to Water Loss 2012 in Manila to tell water utilities one simple thing: data already collected under accepted “best practices” is all they need for a dramatic improvement to water loss control. Of course, that’s part of what you get when you deploy TaKaDu, but I wanted to focus on something else.

There are various tools and methodologies out there to use network monitoring data, and they are far from having been created equal. Whilst the data from sensors and other sources does hold the key to water loss control, and the principles as sketched on a conference slide are simple enough, real-world conditions make data analysis the trickiest link in the active leakage control chain. Three murky clouds – typically glossed over in water loss presentations – help to muddy the waters:

–          Data quality (the meter values could be wrong)

–          Other network events (the event you found may not be a leak)

–          Complex utility process (you think there may be a small leak somewhere – what to do now?)

In this presentation (and the more detailed paper), I revisited the “traditional” Active Leakage Control process, highlighting the role of data analysis (manual and automated), revolving around leakage analyst’s work on the 3 “S”es of data analysis Supermen: Sifting, Statistical estimation, and Special knowledge. By boosting this difficult stage, utilities report they achieved significant quantifiable savings throughout the ALC process.

To do this, I listed some guidelines for coping with the 3 big uncertainties of data, network events, and the utility process, starting with detailed knowledge and understanding of these factors, to be addressed by suitable processing. As with many data analytic challenges, these real-world data “technicalities” are, in fact, the main challenge for data-driven ALC.

If you’re a pessimist, my slides are mostly a long list of impediments to active leakage control. If you’re an optimist, they are a collection of opportunities to do it better. If you work at TaKaDu, these slides are just what we have been doing for the past few years, what we’re good at doing, and what we need to keep doing. Have a look also at some of the other great talks and papers from the conference, too.

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Entry filed under: CTO Corner, data quality, Haggai Scolnicov, Industry events, Innovation, Leaks and Bursts, Smart Water Grid, takadu, Uncategorized, water network monitoring. Tags: , , , , .

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