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🌐 "Scenarios for Resolving Future Water Quality Challenges"

Water Foresight Podcast

Photo by Sugarman Joe / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Matthew Klein
Guest: Meena Sankaran | Founder & CEO | KETOS
Category: 🌐 Digital

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[1:05] “KETOS is sort of this intersection of IoT […] meets data science meets robotics meets AI for the world of water. It's quite an interdisciplinary approach to solving fundamentally the water monitoring challenge. It's a very important problem. And we truly believe that we can transform how […] water operators, whether it's utilities, industrial, or even agriculture can really lead their day to day operations.”

[2:10] “There's two aspects. There's the water quality monitoring, which you're thinking about qualitative aspects of contaminant detection and looking at a variety of parameters. And there's a ton in terms of what to detect, and how much to detect, and what the sensitivity levels [are]. And then you have the water quantity monitoring. So do I understand how much water is lost in leaks, and whether that water was polluted or even untreated water. So really getting to the granularity of understanding what you're measuring and once you measure, then you're able to act on it in a much more predictive and intelligent and actionable manner.”

[2:49] “I think the underlying crux of how important monitoring is sometimes lost in a lot of utilities today. And so I think what we bring to the forefront is highlighting one, monitoring does not have to be cost prohibitive. Monitoring does not have to be a very complex piece of equipment, that is the size of a refrigerator. And monitoring does not have to be 100%, complete dependency on a lab either, which is a more legacy static approach of taking 7 to 15 days for waiting on a data point before you take an action. So I think that being able to have real time, actionable data at your fingertips to make actions, to create decisions and drive decisions is very, very crucial in the days forward.”

[4:56] “As an utility operator, how are you going to remain current with your technology in terms of what you're deploying, at the same time looking ahead, so that you're building a more sustainable environment versus making a very siloed momentary decision […]? So I think there are several facets to how monitoring has been traditionally looked at both technology wise, as well as business model. And […] [traditionally] you spend an extensive amount of time cleaning this equipment, calibrating the equipment, purchasing consumables, and then your frequency of testing is tied to your consumable. So […] how am I incentivizing you to test more if you are going to be charged every time you test more?  […] So the whole disruption of helping an operator and empowering an operator has to be coupled very intelligently, with the right business model for them to succeed.”

[8:09] “[For] every utility operator, the data has to be […] accurate. And accuracy is so important […] whether it's wastewater or if it's drinking water, or if it's untreated water or it's water that you're using from a river source. Regardless of the source or the effluent, the water data has to be accurate.”

[8:48] “The second [requirement] is being able to have that autonomy. […] The amount of labor hours that is so expensive for resources to be doing this while they can be water experts focused on action. […] How do I automate my nutrient loading based on this data and be thinking about the consequences versus the procedural technician type of labor that's causing them to have more repetitive tasks which can be completely automated. So having a 100% remote controlled, autonomous operation that can self-calibrate that can self-clean and can really provide you that accuracy with a 0% data drift? That is what will be game changing which is what KETOS delivers.”

[9:48] “How do I make this actionable? […] Am I information rich? Do I have enough knowledge or am I information poor? […] Now you get into predictive intelligence. You actually use the power of all the data that you have manually over 50 years, and you input all of that, and then now you're able to use it to make it more actionable.”

[10:40] “This does not have to be expensive. If coupled with the right business model, this can be very, very affordable. […] The last utility […] [the] cost […] per data point was down to about 0.015 cent. So the possibility of having continuous monitoring data points and also having a variety of scheduled testing, depending on the types of parameters, you're able to detect truly can become very powerful. Because imagine the amount of hours you're losing and drive time to go pick up a sample, prep a sample.”

[17:01] “I've always believed that modularity is key, because water is so fluid. […] You have a changing characterization of what's happening with its water. […] This is a very key piece to our solution, because what we've enabled is […] when you think of the world of software, in terms of enterprise technology, you're able to get different packages, you're able to upgrade solutions. Why not bring the same philosophy and concept of hardware? So what we have done is our system is capable of monitoring and detecting about 26 parameters so far. We started off with 3 parameters back in 2016 and […] will be about 30 by the end of the year.”

[33:09] “Regulation right now is trailing behind technology. There's a significant amount of innovation that can actually help the regulators. But I think even the regulators who are very excited to see the kind of innovation that's hitting the market and the level of sophistication that our technology brings into a customer environment, they're bound by legislative changes that have just ruled policy for the last 50 years. And so you're talking about administrative legislative multi tier layer of changes, before compliance can be invoked for any of these utilities to then be able to say, compliance needs it, I'm going to do it. And that might be the type of straw that's required and the type of change that needs to come if we want to enable the layer of sophistication across all our utilities in this country. And really help them […] realize that technology is an enabler, not necessarily a disrupter to how they're going to perform and live their lives.”

[47:29] “It's important almost to have a customer SAT score, […] because now [the utilities] have the unique opportunity of building such a […] strong credibility with all their constituents by giving them access and saying, here's how your water quality looks like. And by the way, we're not afraid to show it because we're doing our due diligence in terms of how much we put effort, both technology wise, as well as resource wise to make sure you have safe, clean drinking water […]. And so as part of that, feel free to look at, here's the water quality in your zip code and by the way, here's how it has trended over the last five years. And based on this trend, you don't need to have this filter or that filter, we recommend this sort of filter in your home. What is that worth? That is a lot less anxiety […] and most of all, like, it allows the utilities to rise about this game of bottled water as just tap water. Because tap water in this country is far more regulated than bottled water. And it's unfortunate that a lot of folks rely so much on bottled water, and that's lost capital. And this would allow utilities to actually offer water at the right price, which is very undervalued today.”

Rating: 💧💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Spotify
🕰️ 1 hr 2 min | 🗓️ 08/19/2021
✅ Time saved: 1 hr