“The ability to really focus on the future is our industry’s biggest challenge,” said Melissa Meeker, CEO of The Water Tower, at the GlobalWaterWorks webinar hosted on May 12.
During the webinar, titled “How COVID-19 Made the Case for Digital Transformation in Water,” an expert panel discussed how utility operations are evolving due to Covid-19.
One of the most significant challenges is protecting essential employees.
The workforce challenges of Covid-19, highlight the importance of implementing innovative technologies to assist operators in their daily duties.
However, not all utilities have the resources to innovate.
“A lot of utilities, especially the small and medium, are really focused on the challenge of today,” Meeker said. “The broken pipe, or the ever-growing list of things they have to accomplish now.”
Meeker believes The Water Tower can help by creating a collaboration space focused on research, technology innovation, workforce development, and community engagement.
She hopes utilities can go to The Water Tower to view demonstrations of technologies in real world applications to see if they would be a good fit for the utilities’ needs.
“It’s the ability to, without sales pressure, experience those technologies and see case studies, like the ones we've heard about today that actually have a dramatic effect on a utility’s ability to be efficient,” Meeker said.
Elected officials and Water Boards can also visit to see the return on investment from innovations firsthand.
“Creating a physical space with a core workforce development and training piece that exposes people to technologies will provide our industry the greatest benefit,” Meeker said.
The Water Tower is partnering with state certification organizations to train on our campus.
“A really cool component of The Water Tower will be our master control room which will allow us to visually demonstrate technologies and expose those boots on the ground, coming in for training, to new technologies,” Meeker said.
The Water Tower campus will be that physical space that allows collaboration and augmented learning for a host of audiences.
The Water Tower is a new breed of innovation center providing answers to a multitude of complex challenges facing the water industry through an integrated approach to applied research, technology innovation, workforce development, and stakeholder engagement. With its mission to be a thriving ecosystem of water innovation fueled by imagination, informed by research, and powered by pioneers, The Water Tower is especially invested in helping utilities devise strategies to benefit from digital advancements in water supply and quality. For more information visit www.theh2otower.org