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The municipal water sector in the US is forecast to spend over $20 billion in software, data, and analytics solutions over the next decade.According to its findings, Bluefield Research states that more than 40 companies are positioning to deploy state-of-the-art solutions to enable more advanced levels of system intelligence, real-time network visibility, energy efficiency and customer management.

Driving factors pushing up adoption of these technologies include state legislation for water loss, aging infrastructure, and pressure on utilities to be more efficient.

Smart water meters

“Historically, utilities have been hobbled by their inability to generate actionable insights from disparate network and water usage data, but this is changing with more advanced data management and cloud-based solutions,” says Will Maize, a senior analyst at Bluefield Research.

“Early adopting utilities, including American Water and East Bay Municipal Water District, are leading the shift towards smart water technology adoption.”

Bluefield Research identified advanced water meters to have the "lion´s share" of forecasted expenditures at 82% from 2017 through 2026.

Furthermore, over $2.7bn will be directed towards asset condition assessment and pipeline monitoring through 2026. Operating expenditures on leakage management will total $1 billion through the forecast period.

“While the smart meters have garnered the most attention, asset intelligence and visibility into real-time network conditions offer significant benefits,” says Mr. Maize. “Water companies can now go from being reactive to proactive.”

“The market is already beginning to take on a different shape. We are seeing larger, diversified companies enter the fray, utilities reshaping their mindset, and Silicon Valley-types applying data expertise. This combination has huge potential to change the way the US water industry works,” he adds.

“If you looked at the smart water market a few years ago, there were just a handful players.”

In a release, reporting on Bluefield's study, Water Online, said: "Seizing on this burgeoning demand for solutions is an outside group of venture-backed start-ups seeking to leverage their data expertise, much of which draws from other industry applications.

"These data and analytics companies are looking to integrate disparate sources of data to optimize networks, track water quality, and generate insights for asset performance management. Their primary challenge, however, will be overcoming a credibility gap with demonstrated pilot projects and buy-in from municipal utilities. A select group of companies from more mature smart water markets, Europe and Israel, are also beginning to make headway in the US market."