New Report Shows U.S. Water Utilities Sector Still in Early Stages of Digital Transformation

HAMILTON, NJ – (BUSINESS WIRE) – Water utilities have been chronically underfunded for decades, and an estimate by the American Water Works Association found it would take a $ 1 trillion investment to meet the needs of drinking water systems in the United States. To better understand how this industry is leveraging digital capabilities to address these historic challenges, Dodge Data & Analytics and partner Bentley have released a new study and report entitled “The Digital Capabilities of US Water Utilities SmartMarket Brief,” which Transformation has set a benchmark for municipal water systems and the readiness of this market for digital media. The results indicated that the ability to collect, share and analyze data and other digital resources is critical to improving the effectiveness of operations and maintenance, capital planning and contingency preparedness and will play an important role in digital transformation and its future capabilities .

While water utilities clearly understand the value of the data and 87% say they are collecting data digitally, 50% of all respondents believe they are collecting less than half of the data available to them. In addition, two common problems prevent them from doing their job efficiently across the company:

  • 90% say data is either isolated in separate IT systems, spreadsheets, or paper records, which occasionally prevents their organization from operating and maintaining effective (45% say often).

  • 68% say a lack of transparency between stakeholders occasionally affects effective capital planning (43% say often)

Almost three quarters report that they are in the process of digital transformation in their company, which shows a commitment to improving their digital skills. However, when it comes to how busy they are with eight different types of digital functions, the results suggest that they are still at the early stages of that process.

  • The best results have been achieved with effective data management and sharing, but even in these categories only 12% or less report very good to excellent skills, about two-thirds have moderate to good skills, and between a quarter and a third do not yet have any Limited skills.

  • Collecting information in real time, be it directly from the assets or from reality capture tools such as drones and laser scanning, is a particular challenge. Around half state that they have no or only limited functions in these areas.

  • Only about 4% say they have digital twins (i.e. a digital version of the asset with real-time data that can be used for planning and operational purposes).

“A lot has changed in the four decades we’ve provided software-based applications and guides to water professionals. What hasn’t changed is that the utilities who make the best use of their technology will serve their customers best, ”said Gregg Herrin, vice president, water infrastructure, Bentley Systems.

“Openness has been a key issue for Bentley for many years, which leads to flexibility, interoperability and scalability. This helps bring the technology to the people who need it and combines information from systems like GIS, SCADA, simulation tools and beyond to create, extend and apply digital twins to make better decisions across the enterprise to meet. ”

In order to achieve their digital priorities and their future potential, water utilities have to face various challenges. While issues like data quality and quantity are a problem for 80% of respondents, almost as many are concerned about the lack of in-house staff with the required digital skills (74%) and resistance to change (70%). When asked to consider the best means of developing their digital skills, respondents most often included improving the skills of their employees and improving their understanding of the value of digital skills among the top three. Better technology is a distant neighborhood, suggesting that improvement in these areas is currently more focused on people than on big technology investments.

“We find in our research time and time again that people are at the center of a successful introduction of new technologies,” said Steve Jones, senior director of Industry Insights at Dodge Data & Analytics. “Technology is the tool, but as the case study in SmartMarket Brief shows, real value comes from the insights they provide to do their job more effectively.”

US water utility SmartMarket Brief’s digital capabilities include a more in-depth study of the current status of many operations and maintenance, capital planning, and contingency preparedness and response activities and functions, and help assess the industry’s progress toward its digital future. The report can be downloaded for free at:

About Dodge Data & Analytics: Dodge Data & Analytics is North America’s leading provider of commercial construction project data, market forecasting and analytics services, and workflow integration solutions for the construction industry. Manufacturers, architects, engineers, contractors, and construction product service providers use Dodge to identify and track invisible growth opportunities that will help them grow their business. At the local, regional or national level, Dodge enables its customers to better understand their markets, uncover key relationships, seize growth opportunities and successfully pursue specific sales opportunities. The company’s construction project information is the most comprehensive and verified in the industry. Dodge is leveraging its 125-year legacy of continuous innovation to help the industry meet the building challenges of the future. Learn more at

About Bentley:

Bentley Systems (Nasdaq: BSY) is the infrastructure engineering software company. We offer innovative software for the further development of the global infrastructure – to preserve the global economy and the environment. Our industry-leading software solutions are used by professionals and organizations of all sizes for the design, construction and operation of roads and bridges, rail and transit, water and sewage, public works and utilities, buildings and sites, and industrial plants. Our offering includes MicroStation-based applications for modeling and simulation, ProjectWise for project execution, AssetWise for the performance of assets and networks, and the iTwin platform for digital twins in the infrastructure. Bentley Systems has more than 4,000 employees and annual sales of more than $ 800 million in 172 countries.

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