In an industry first, over 100 water utilities across Australia and New Zealand have co-created a Technology Roadmap. Initiated by Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA), the new W-Lab initiative will guide the water industry, as it seeks to leverage innovative technology solutions to secure a new water future.
Tracey Slatter, Managing Director of Barwon Water, launches the W-Lab Technology Roadmap at the first Technology Showcase.
“The Technology Roadmap depicts a new water future vision co-created by the water-industry in Australia and New Zealand, said Mr Adam Lovell, Executive Director, WSAA.
“In developing the Roadmap, we listened to and engaged with W-Lab members, provocateurs, international water authorities and other industries”, said Mr Lovell
Barwon Water Managing Director Tracey Slatter said “I’m delighted to launch the W-Lab Technology Roadmap.
“Through W-Lab, local water utilities have collaborated successfully and there has been a sharing of collective knowledge. By working together, we can share our resources, expertise and experience to collectively achieve our desired outcomes.
“This is a very exciting time for the local water sector and I encourage all water utilities to enthusiastically seize the opportunity that W-Lab offers so that the sector as a whole, individual utilities and more importantly, all of our customers can reap the specific benefits of technology innovation now and into the future”, said Ms Slatter.
In setting the vision, W-Lab actively sought out diverse voices ranging from senior executive, to frontline worker, from designer to entrepreneur, resulting in a rich conversation that was captured at a three-day Ideation Summit hosted online in June 2020. The vision was set using four innovation frames; Customer, Nature, Enterprise and Flows.
Opportunity areas were unpacked further during four separate Launch Pad events, one for each frame. Members finally converged at a point where they could clearly articulate and prioritise areas that were urgent or would have a great impact.
Finally, members were engaged through a series of mini-workshops to refine the outputs of the Summit and Launch Pad events. The intent was to ensure that each member could see their organisation well-represented within the emerging Roadmap.
The Roadmap will guide both the industry as they seek to explore innovative solutions, as well as technology developers who are putting their ideas into practice and want to play a part in helping the water industry reach their goals.
W-Lab brings a completely unique approach to technology and innovation, combining skill sets from leading global technology and innovation consultancy, Isle Utilities with those of ThinkPlace, who specialise in applying design thinking to complex challenges. Together a synergy has been created that is unparalleled in the water industry.
Dr Alex Cech, Chief Technology Officer at Isle Utilities (Asia-Pacific) said, “discovering the individual requirements and the specific challenges of the local utilities through W-Lab enables Isle Utilities and ThinkPlace to use our global reach to search for innovative solutions that will convert these challenges into opportunities.”
Sarah Patterson, General Manager, Victoria at ThinkPlace said “The water industry has shown us they are willing to step up with optimism, accountability and responsibility for the future we create. What is unique about this Roadmap, is that it places humans, not technology, at the centre."
WSAA members have praised the W-Lab process. Alayna Gleeson, Project Officer at the Orana Water Utilities Alliance in regional New South Wales said “because we represent some of the most remote utilities in the state, we thought it was important to be a part of the W-Lab program to be sure that regional NSW had a voice as well as to see what other utilities may be doing, perhaps on a larger scale, to see the successes that they were having, with a view to adapting it for our situation.”
Dr Nicola Nelson, Manager, Science, Research and Innovation at Sydney Water said “We have never had this approach before and it give us the ability as an industry to look at bespoke technologies which will provide maximum benefit to the whole industry and individual utilities.”
The first Technology Showcase, hosted on 11 November, investigated a high quality shortlist of technologies that meet one of the high priority opportunity areas – How might we explore new markets, recover value from waste and understand the potential impacts of new products for our customers, our environment and our business.
Download the W-Lab Technology Roadmap.
For more information on W-Lab please contact Victoria Allen.