Bringing Water into the 21st Century: Managing Water with Open Data
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I chaired a session during the 4th Annual Silicon Valley Energy & Sustainability Summit organized by The Silicon Valley Leadership Group.
This special program convened on June 30th at Oracle Headquarters in Redwood City, California. The overarching theme was built around this question: “What’s Next After Paris & What’s In Store For California?”
Meeting the goals laid out in the Paris agreement signed in December 2015 will require new technologies, new policies and new financing – and, even then, the successful transition to clean energy will be quite difficult.
In seeking to meet the needs of residents, businesses and the environment, California lacks a comprehensive and accurate way to assess the water use and supply under its management responsibility. The State of California currently lacks the water data, or the widely adopted practices and technologies, which will enable better water management by its own governmental agencies. In addition, water infrastructure throughout the state is aging and in need of repair, numerous communities are without safe water, and many suffer from unreliable and degraded water supplies.
This 60-minute panel session featured a vigorous discussion of the various policies, technologies and practices that help California identify and remedy the problems it faces, while fostering innovation to address our most basic needs. As you might expect from anything involving Meeting of the Minds, there was a special focus on data and information systems.
The panelists who joined me on stage were these four leaders:
Goverment Affairs Manager Sonoma County Water Agency
Assemblymember California State Assembly Author of AB 1755, The Open and Transparent Water Data Act
Director of Operations and Market Development WaterSmart Software
Water Sector Lead for Smart Integrated Infrastructure and Director of Water Treatment Technology Black & Veatch
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In my business, we’d rather not be right. What gets a climate change expert out of bed in the morning is the desire to provide decision-makers with the best available science, and at the end of the day we go to bed hoping things won’t actually get as bad as our science tells us. That’s true whether you’re a physical or a social scientist.
Well, I’m one of the latter and Meeting of the Minds thought it would be valuable to republish an article I penned in January 2020. In that ancient past, only the most studious of news observers had heard of a virus in Wuhan, China, that was causing a lethal disease. Two months later we were in lockdown, all over the world, and while things have improved a lot in the US since November 2020, in many cities and nations around the world this is not the case. India is living through a COVID nightmare of untold proportions as we speak, and many nations have gone through wave after wave of this pandemic. The end is not in sight. It is not over. Not by a longshot.
And while the pandemic is raging, sea level continues to rise, heatwaves are killing people in one hemisphere or the other, droughts have devastated farmers, floods sent people fleeing to disaster shelters that are not the save havens we once thought them to be, wildfires consumed forests and all too many homes, and emissions dipped temporarily only to shoot up again as we try to go “back to normal.”
So, I’ll say another one of those things I wish I’ll be wrong about, but probably won’t: there is no “back to normal.” Not with climate change in an interdependent world.
I caught up with Steph Stoppenhagen from Black & Veatch the other day about their work on critical infrastructure in Las Vegas. In particular, we talked about the new Bleutech Park project which touts itself as an eco-entertainment park. They are deploying new technologies and materials to integrate water, energy, mobility, housing, and climate-smart solutions as they anticipate full-time residents and park visitors. Hear more from Steph about this new $7.5B high-tech biome in the desert.
Planning for new, shared modes of transit that will rival private vehicles in access and convenience requires a paradigm shift in the planning process. Rather than using traditional methods, we need to capture individual behavior while interacting with the systems in questions. An increasing number of studies show that combining agent-based simulation with activity-based travel demand modeling is a good approach. This approach creates a digital twin of the population of the city, with similar characteristics as their real-world counterparts. These synthetic individuals have activities to perform through the course of the day, and need to make mobility decisions to travel between activity locations. The entire transportation infrastructure of the city is replicated on a virtual platform that simulates real life scenarios. If individual behavior and the governing laws of the digital reality are accurately reproduced, large-scale mobility demand emerges from the bottom-up, reflecting the real-world incidences.