American Water: A Big Fish in the Data Lake

American Water: A Big Fish in the Data Lake
Dr. Ben Stanford

By – July 3, 2018 – Comment

From big data to microdata, it is clear that the use of data is becoming an increasingly powerful driver of what we experience, how we interact, and what decisions we make. It affects the lives of individuals, communities, and businesses alike and will become the currency of innovations now and in the future.

This is why American Water—committed to the power of “Imaginovation—went to work on exploring ways to use data from the world around us that enhanced our customer service and operations. Thanks to a partnership with Hortonworks, a leading provider of enterprise-grade global data management platforms, services and solutions, we now operate with a more modernized data architecture.

So, with this level of innovation, how does it affect our customers on a day-to-day basis?

Faster response. This is incredibly important to customers and regulators. We are now able to gather and report information in a matter of minutes instead of 24 hours or longer that conventional systems might take. Key decision-makers and field workers are able to get accurate and specific data needed to make quick yet reliable decisions.

Greater operational efficiency. This means having more data than ever at one’s fingertips, which can be analyzed quickly to create a big-picture view, as well as a laser focus on everything from dealing with emergency issues to developing longer-term enhancements. This efficiency lets us respond to customer concerns in a timely manner with key messages while also implementing solutions that ensure clean, safe, reliable water for everyone.

Use of a data lake that is unprecedented in the industry. A data lake is a single source to aggregate different types of data— water quality, treatment performance, traffic, real-time, streaming and weather, among others—to gain key insights for immediate actionable intelligence. Put simply, we have a huge lake of data that the HortonWorks platform allows us to access at any time to find almost any type of information we need in order to solve a problem, proactively innovate a solution or share with our customers.

Consider this scenario: A water main in a neighborhood begins leaking and American Water uses internet of things (IOT) sensors to detect the leak, reporting the information to the data lake. Then, through the power of big data computing we can identify and activate the right work crews to repair the leak, routing them there using real-time traffic and safety data, and ensuring that all materials are on site for a quick repair of the leak.  Even better, new developments in our systems will be able to use big data coupled with satellites and other technology to pinpoint areas of the distribution system that are more likely to form leaks, and then prioritize maintenance efforts to replace aging assets without causing you any service disruption.

There is a more technical explanation behind this revolutionary development—it’s a bit complex, but also fascinating. You can read more here. The bottom line: Leveraging of data in all its forms is here to stay, and American Water is ready to put data to use in order to Keep Life Flowing.