In a previous article on the GovDesignHub, we sat down with Carolina Venegas Martinez, Senior Strategy Manager at Autodesk, to discuss how BIM and digital twins are helping ensure safe drinking water for all by making it easier to replace, operate, and maintain water infrastructures. Ultimately, Autodesk is rethinking the water ecosystem and how it should function to better serve our communities.
Water safety is an issue that is not exclusive to developing nations. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Report Card, there are an estimated 250,000 to 300,000 water main breaks per year. These main breaks can disrupt access to water and also increase the risk of contaminated drinking water. Autodesk is looking to leverage advanced digital design and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to eliminate this problem.
In the second part of our conversation with Carolina Venegas Martinez, we talk about how the Internet of Things (IoT) and other technologies allow for more efficient and sustainable water system operations. In addition, we discuss how Autodesk’s acquisition of Innovyze is benefiting their customers.
GDH: IoT and network-connected sensors are among some of the hottest technologies being evaluated and implemented across the government. How can these solutions be leveraged to make water utilities more efficient? What role do Innovyze and its solutions play in these initiatives?
Carolina Venegas Martinez: Water assets are critical infrastructures that are mostly underground or in areas with limited access. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Report Card, the drinking water infrastructure system in the United States is composed of 2.2 million miles of transmission and distribution pipes which are rapidly aging and failing. This problem is to the point that, in 2020, it was estimated that there are about 250,000 to 300,000 main breaks per year, disrupting supply and risking contamination of drinking water.
ASCE estimated that, in 2019, utilities were replacing between one and 4.8 percent of their pipelines per year, on average. In addition, ASCE estimated that 14 to 18 percent of total daily treated potable water is lost through leaks, with some water systems reporting water-loss rates exceeding 60 percent.
The scenario is even more concerning when water utilities, especially smaller ones, have been slow to invest in technology to improve health, safety, and efficiency due to limiting funding and workforce shortage.
Here is where technology, IoT, and network-connected sensors can help. Autodesk’s Info360 cloud solutions for Asset Management and Operational Analytics for Networks and Plants offer a pathway for utilities to create digital twins. This program gives utilities tools with the end-to-end workflows they need to operate, maintain, and optimize assets across the complete water lifecycle.
“Applying analytics, modeling, and alerting tools makes operational information more accessible, reliable, and actionable.” — Carolina Venegas Martinez
Our solutions connect to live data provided by IoT and various data streams, including weather, rainfall data, etc. When combined with designed workflows, our solutions enable owners to operate their facility in a much smarter way. They can quickly identify incidents in their system, check multiple resolution scenarios, and apply recommended actions to quickly resolve system failures.
Our Info360 solutions promote a transparent approach that converges cloud, IoT, and advanced, synchronized modeling capabilities. These abilities help create digital models that represent real systems that can be updated and maintained continuously for better risk assessment, enabling risk modelers to justify their risk-based decisions.
Applying analytics, modeling, and alerting tools makes operational information more accessible, reliable, and actionable. This helps to improve service delivery by rapidly identifying and resolving incidents in water networks.
GDH: In 2021, Autodesk acquired Innovyze. How do the company’s solutions fit into the larger Autodesk portfolio? Why was this a strategic, synergistic acquisition for the company?
Carolina Venegas Martinez: Autodesk’s acquisition of Innovyze means a lot to us, it is our loud and clear commitment to the water industry.
Water is a finite resource that crosses all economic sectors, so it is simply not possible for the water industry to continue operating in silos and not take full advantage of what technology can help it accomplish.
“Our goal is to digitize the entire asset lifecycle and provide the industry with tools so that we can have infrastructure that can be monitored in real-time.” — Carolina Venegas Martinez
We have transformed the way engineering is done by digitizing the lifecycle of projects and assets. The acquisition was the right decision to make, especially when we had the opportunity to integrate our portfolio of digital solutions for design and construction with Innovyze’s hydrologic and hydraulic modeling tools to accelerate the digitalization of the maintenance and operation phases.
As the integration of our technology progresses, we will see more data interoperability across the portfolio – not only at the level of our integrated design solutions with hydraulic modeling but also at the operational level. Our goal is to digitize the entire asset lifecycle and provide the industry with tools so that we can have infrastructure that can be monitored in real-time. This allows for more efficient, environmentally friendly, and sustainable operations.
GDH: How has the acquisition benefitted Autodesk customers?
Carolina Venegas Martinez: The greatest benefit to our customers is that we are capturing the entire water value chain. Therefore, we can truly connect planners, engineers, builders, and operators – throughout the asset lifecycle – by enabling the digital delivery of projects as well as the creation and operation of digital twins for water systems.
With the acquisition of Innovyze’s core hydraulic modeling capabilities and cloud technologies, we can offer the most complete portfolio of solutions for water projects on the market and drive significant value to the industry and to our customers.
GDH: How has the acquisition benefitted Innovyze customers?
Carolina Venegas Martinez: From BIM to cloud collaboration, Autodesk’s leading and innovative technology is being used to renovate aging pipes, treatment facilities, and wastewater plants as well as create cleaner and more sustainable water systems.
“Now that we are seeing historic investments in the water industry, we need to work together to do better and improve the critical systems that get safe and reliable water to our homes and businesses.” — Carolina Venegas Martinez
With the Autodesk acquisition, Innovyze customers benefit from access to a complete portfolio of solutions to address all their needs – from planning through operations. Autodesk delivers a data-centric platform to help drive better outcomes and simplify procurement and operational costs, continue investment, and support what matters the most to the water industry.
In addition, Autodesk’s data-centric platform gives democratized access to resources, such as training and product support, enhanced software integrations, and more affordable subscription pricing models. The acquisition also gives Innovyze customers peace of mind. Innovyze solutions will remain available and will continue to see new functionality and capability added well into the future. Customers can confidently grow their adoption of these technologies and do so with a better user experience and expanded functionality.
Now that we are seeing historic investments in the water industry, we need to work together to do better and improve the critical systems that get safe and reliable water to our homes and businesses. By developing and delivering technology that helps solve today’s challenges, we can improve the lives of millions worldwide and build a better future for generations to come.
Existing and new customers of Innovyze and Autodesk now have the opportunity to embrace technology at a different level and mitigate increasing water risks and create a water-secure future. It is time for our industry to drive change, and we are leading the way.
GDH: Are there native integrations and interoperability between the Innovyze solutions and Autodesk solutions? How can these solutions complement and enhance each other? How can their integrations improve processes and workflows for government organizations?
Carolina Venegas Martinez: Connecting our solutions through the cloud delivers dramatically improved collaboration, more predictability and improved risk management, and easier use of data for better workflows, all deriving better business outcomes.
“Integrations like these are important for government organizations as they eliminate error-prone, manual work – like the translation of drainage designs to BIM formats.” — Carolina Venegas Martinez
One of the most notable integrations between Autodesk and Innovyze solutions is between Civil 3D and InfoDrainage, connecting BIM and hydraulic modelers. These two products collaborate seamlessly to enhance the drainage design process and deliver efficient, sustainable outcomes. InfoDrainage features an integrated data exchange with round-tripping support in Civil 3D, which shortens design time and ensures high-quality design work.
This is the first of many other capabilities that we envision enabling in the near future. Integrations like these are important for government organizations as they eliminate error-prone, manual work – like the translation of drainage designs to BIM formats. When the tools work seamlessly together, nothing gets lost in translation, and the process remains in a centralized digital environment.