Transforming the water sector – enabled by digitalisation
Water resources management and water services are being renewed. Better water security is a key issue in ensuring sustainable development, both in Finland and globally. Digitalisation offers great opportunities in terms of higher water efficiency and security.
Good water resources management is part of the solution to almost all major global problems, including overconsumption of natural resources and climate change adaptation. Water management all through its lifecycle requires clear targets, up-to-date information, planning and leadership. Digital methods may be used to improve the efficiency of water resources management and the production and service concepts.
“Digital solutions, analysis of data and artificial intelligence create opportunities for having more accurate, up-to-date and analytical data for decision-making. Better data lays the foundation for targeted political and economic measures”, says Seppo Rekolainen, Director of International Water Cooperation at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
Data – making things possible
Data required for digital solutions is one of the most important raw materials for achieving the sustainable development goals. The concept of data revolution launched by the UN describes very well the role of data as a key production factor. Real-time information and data are a new global currency, and their value keeps rising.
Besides the traditional practices and ideas, digitalisation of water services and advanced technologies also require a new and innovative approach. Dialogue across branches of sciences and economic activities is reflected especially in tomorrow’s new service concepts.
“To achieve digitalisation in the water sector and water services we also need fresh ideas and new kinds of expertise from outside the sector. In long-term strategic planning the focus must be on open access to data and interoperability of information systems as enablers of digital water services”, says Olli-Matti Verta, Chief Specialist of Water Management at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
Towards a clearer picture
A sudden event that threatens water security may take place at any time. Floods and drought are forecast to increase, also as a result of climate change. In terms of water security a common picture of the situation will be even more important in future.
Rekolainen and Verta agree on the role of the situation picture. “Through networking the national and municipal actors and the business life aim to maintain operational capacity in all situations, including large-scale flood events. A real-time situation picture enabled by digitalisation and collaboration across sectoral boundaries creates a solid basis for exceptional situations and emergencies as well.”
Digital solutions can also be used in water services to improve the situation picture such as in the monitoring and control of water consumption. Through digitalisation e.g. leakage of water from the pipeline can be detected sooner and information on it transmitted fast. By having up-to-date information, the amount of water lost from the pipeline can be reduced by tens of percentages.
Digitalisation means new opportunities for water-related business
Finland has the potential to become a major international player in the provision of water-related services. Finland has a vision where digital solutions can be used to produce comprehensive services that respond to customer needs. The solutions must also be scalable and adaptable.
“Digitalisation is the key factor for the internationalisation of business operations, but it is not the only thing that needs to be taken into account. We also need collaboration between companies, good networks in the world, and flexible financing solutions”, Rekolainen says.
Olli-Matti Verta, Chief Specialist of Water Management, tel. +358 295 162 123, olli-matti.verta[at]mmm.fi
Seppo Rekolainen, Director of International Water Cooperation, tel. +358 295 162 086, seppo.rekolainen(at)mmm.fi, tel.
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, 3.1.2019