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30 Most Influential Companies of the Year 2020

Empowering Workforce in Water & Wastewater Utilities Through Technology & AI

Empowering Workforce in Water & Wastewater Utilities Through Technology & AI

Water is a basic requirement to sustain human life. This means that innovations in water technologies are a must. In the times of COVID-19, such technologies are even more relevant as researchers all over the world emphasize on the importance of wastewater analytics to contain outbreaks.

Mahesh Lunani-led Aquasight has a new innovative solution called CEWS which can enable cities, campuses and states in being proactive with their response to COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. We talked to Mahesh to understand more about the solution and how the company is innovating in the water technology space.

How did you get the idea of applying artificial intelligence to municipal water?

Municipal water and wastewater has voluminous amount of data. This data is available in many forms including time series, structure or unstructured, real-time or batch, design or operational, production or consumption, GIS or engineering models and environmental like rain or tide. Unfortunately, most of this data is not mined today. Our solutions at Aquasight have shown that if mined, it can drive efficiencies, predict unforeseen events or optimize capital expenditures. Artificial Intelligence can help unpack these opportunities. Since these are highly engineered system with dynamic events, one has to be careful on how AI is applied and executed.

What are Aquasight’s solutions for water and wastewater?

Our solutions cover the entire lifecycle of water – both drinking water and wastewater systems. We address a range of issues including optimal drinking water pumping operations and energy management, water quality management in distribution networks, smart meter analytics and consumption anomalies at customer service connections, overflows and infiltration and inflow in the sewer systems and optimization of wastewater treatment for both liquids and solids.

We also have a solution for asset management plan creation, management and maintenance that delivers intelligent automation of workflow which otherwise is cost, time and resource intensive. Aquasight provides augmented intelligence for the utility staff to drive optimal performance. Through our application SAMI, we also provide autonomous monitoring 24x7 reliable digital assistant, notifying whenever inefficient conditions arise or when the system operates outside the guard rails.

What are the upsides of deploying Aquasight?

There are over one hundred features that are pre-built into our solutions. In other words, with our solutions- models, analytics, algorithms, insights are available and ready to use. Deploying Aquasight means that the effort required on behalf of utility is minimal. We can plug in a different data source and the solution for that customer is specific to their context. Since our solutions are mainly SaaS, we have to ensure our solutions create sustained value.

The Annualized Benefits to Cost ratio of our solutions is 2 or better and in a few cases, as high as 10. We also constantly add new features so all members on our platform benefit from continuous innovation.

Could you tell us about Aquasight’s innovations during COVID-19?

Sewage surveillance for infectious diseases especially COVID-19 is a hot new topic. Researchers around the world have said that COVID-19 in sewage could be an early warning indicator for community spread. Aquasight has launched a turnkey solution to execute sewage surveillance at community, college campus or at a nursing home level. Our solution CEWS, includes design, samplers, logistics, testing, lab data management, analytics and a dashboard. We helped establish a lab in a public-private partnership.

We may be at the cusp of a new source of value that public works can provide to its communities. By partnering with Aquasight, wastewater utilities can not only manage flows, reduce CSO’s and efficiently treat wastewater, but can also provide important insights on the spread of infectious diseases at the neighborhood level.

Tell us about 21st Century Water.

The 21st Century Water is a free knowledge sharing podcast series featuring insightful discussions and solutions on the most pressing issues facing America’s 50,000+ utilities. The monthly podcast features water leaders who are working to meet both existing and emerging challenges and dive deep into novel solutions and new models that are producing tangible results. The goal of this podcast is to increase the likelihood that success stories can be replicated by leaders, operators and executives across the country. The podcast is also designed to motivate and create vibrant 21st century water systems and the innovative workforce required to lead and operate them.

The Innovative Leader

Mahesh Lunani, Founder and CEO

He is a seasoned business leader with over 20 years of experience in industry, consulting, and venture capital. Prior to founding Aquasight, he has incubated and built next generation products and businesses while working at Cognizant. He has also worked with IBM where his work revolved around the company’s industrial efforts. Here, he spearheaded the strategy and change practice in addition to leading the effort to incubate emerging horizontal services. Mahesh was part of the global automotive leadership team at Roland Berger Strategy Consultants and was a key member of the startup team that launched its NA operations. He left the corporate world to pursue his passion of solving the most pressing issues in mature industries.

His articles on innovation in water sector have been published on several mediums. He has degrees in Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing engineering and did his General Manager Program from Harvard Business School.

“Aquasight provides augmented intelligence for the utility staff to drive optimal performance.”


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