Education and outreach are generally perceived as critical to advancing digital water approaches, not only to encourage their adoption but also to overcome public skepticism, says a new whitepaper from GE.
Recognition awards and certification programs, as well as strategic communications and educational initiatives will support the move.
Barriers to digital water management and technology adoption come in several forms including regulatory, financial, human capital and lack of collaboration and information sharing between organizations.
To remove the barriers, GE suggests the following:
- Refrain from mandating specific water technologies and instead mandate desired results
- Employ reporting mechanisms that can take advantage of new digital water technologies
- Implement government financing models which can reduce costs and catalyze local infrastructure projects to fix, expand, and digitize water systems
- Use Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) to lower costs, engage in risk-sharing, and introduce private sector expertise and innovation to water utilities
- Incorporate digital water management into Intelligent City initiatives
Financial incentives have had success in facilitating changes in utility operations, as well as public attitudes, regarding digital water adoption, GE said.
Governmental incentives most commonly take the form of subsidies, grants and tax breaks. Public banks and infrastructure funds also can play an important role in providing low interest loans and investment, which incentivize digital water adoption.
Finally, robust data security regulations and standards play a crucial role in advancing the adoption of digital water solutions, according to GE.
Promoting open standards, data democratization and transparency, as well as safeguarding cybersecurity and balancing data privacy are critical policy mechanisms, the company said.