Ozwater'17 articles

How digital technologies like virtual reality will reshape the water industry

Posted 24 April 2017

Digital technologies are already helping Australian water utilities boost efficiency and performance, says GHD's new digital transformation and growth expert.

Kumar Parakala has been appointed to the newly created role of Global Leader – Digital at GHD Advisory after the acquisition of his business transformation consultancy, Technova. 

“Data analytics, cloud, mobility, virtual reality and location intelligence are transforming the way businesses operate,” Parakala said.

“Let's say there is going to be an extreme weather event; data analytics can help professionals in the water industry plan and mitigate those risks in a realistic manner so that when that event really happens, they're able to act effectively and efficiently.”

Parakala's position appointment comes in recognition of the impact digital technologies are having on clients, said CEO of GHD Ashley Wright.

“We are actively investing in digital services to leverage the opportunities delivered by new and emerging technologies,” Wright said. 

According to Parakala, digital transformation isn’t just about technology. 

“It’s how you use new digital technologies to redefine business strategy to achieve better service delivery and customer experience while optimising operations,” he said. 

As one example, GHD is using virtual and augmented reality technology to meet training needs and monitor progress. Parakala predicted that this application will become increasingly popular with water utilities in coming years.

“You can very proactively and cost-effectively train people in a virtual environment so that they can quickly get onto the job of supporting customers in the field,” he said.

Location intelligence is another area the water industry stands to benefit.

“We have used geographic information system (GIS) data to help clients understand things like how they should plan ahead in uncertain environments, model demand situations during the year in terms of population growth, drought and seasonal changes, and manage extreme weather events,” Parakala said.

“Some of the data, combined with GIS solutions, also help us to help our clients plan for likely impact, potential outages and support staff in the field.”

Parakala noted the water industry's rich dataset provided extensive opportunities for improved service delivery as analytics and insights capabilities evolved.

“It's no secret that water businesses around Australia have a huge amount of data. My objective is to look at that existing data, look at new data coming in, use our domain knowledge and data analytics techniques, and provide some meaningful insights that will help clients make important decisions.”

Parakala will be part of an invite-only panel discussion – the Water Leaders Forum – at Ozwater’17. To learn more and register, click here.