People 'n' Issues

Analytics vs Drought

January 25th, 2016
The current drought that is bringing many farming regions to their knees has highlighted the importance of better data management in terms of the country’s water resources, says KROSHLEN MOODLEY, GM for the public sector and utilities at SAS.
Photography for Waggener Edstrom Communications in October 2015 by Jeremy Glyn.SAS South Africa executives.

While it isn’t possible to combat the El Nino weather pattern, better resource management and more effective water conservation could help prevent communities from running completely dry in future.

Averting future water crises is a matter of informed decision-making at local, regional and national level. And in order to make these informed decisions, the authorities must have all the relevant data to hand. With aggregated data and advanced analytics, the public sector is positioned to make more effective decisions about water conservation, allocation and management.

When talking about water management and advanced data analytics, we have to consider the whole picture. This includes water sources and treatment plants, the distribution network and usage, as well as overarching legislature and weather and demand/supply analysis to obtain a holistic view of the current situation.

The relevant data needed extends to rainfall data, historical and predicted weather patterns, waste water treatment management, water quality management, distribution systems maintenance, loss and wastage management, and even population growth and demand forecasting. Advanced analytics can also help government better understand population growth and the effect that new residential and industrial developments could have on supply and demand. This information, combined with weather data, can help government decide where to build new dams and reservoirs.

Using Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, combined with mobile and social media to engage public participation in water management, as well as advanced data processing and analytics, the public sector would be able to monitor and manage water supply, distribution and treatment systems more effectively. These integrated systems could enable the public sector to better control usage by individual households and encourage public participation in water conservation efforts.

While the El Nino phenomenon may pass, all indications are that water will remain a scarce resource. It’s important that we look to all available solutions now to better manage the supplies that we have and avert future crises.

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