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Gregg Herrin, Director, Product Management, AssetWise Geospatial, Bentley Systems.

Q: What are some of the challenges water and wastewater companies are facing today? And how is Bentley Systems helping them?

GH: We have a lot of different areas that we cover – from planning to design of infrastructure, and the different operations and maintenance aspects of utilities also. When you look at wastewater, there are collection networks and also treatment facilities. Likewise with water, there are treatment facilities and networks for distribution. There are different challenges that utilities and their consultants face, depending on what part of the lifecycle they are in, and which assets they are working on. But I would say one of the biggest challenges everywhere is the increased pressure to spend less money while getting better outcomes. Those outcomes are based on things like avoiding sewage spills, and providing adequate water pressure and potable water. It’s also about being able to do things like lower energy bills, and understanding where to spend the money – being smarter about when or where inspection should be done, or when to turn pumps on or off to ensure that we fill the tanks but don’t run up the energy bills. The challenge is to balance all of these competing priorities in a way that still serve customers with the service they need, while providing water inexpensively when and where it needs to be.

Q: Can you share with us more about the CONNECT Edition and when will it roll out?

GH: The CONNECT Edition is a generation of our software. When you look across Bentley Systems, you will see lots of things that are standardised, which means that products in that generation have certain things that allow them to share project information and potential components more effectively. There are some user interface standards too, so things like the ribbon-based user interface tools enable easier workflow management. We first put out the CONNECT edition for water and sewer products a little over a year ago. Since then, we had several updates. We used to only release products once every year or so, but we realised that a lot of good work we’ve done could benefit our users if we could get it into their hands faster. So, we’re moving to a much faster release cycle – on roughly a quarterly basis or every few months.

Q:  How does connecting operational analytics with hydraulic modelling help to improve decision making, smarter operation and management of water distribution and wastewater collection networks?

GH: The general idea is that by tracking more information throughout the lifecycle of the assets, users can get a better sense of the behaviour and understand it better. For example, if your sewer piping is in bad condition, you’ll want to be able to say, “Can I see that crack?” and then see it immediately. This helps you to understand the problem better, and based on the history of incidents, make better decisions such as doing maintenance more often or getting to the root of the problem.

Q: Do you work with companies to do trials on your products?

GH: We’re going into what we call the early-adopter phase for some of our asset management offerings. Initially we talk to our users, listen to their problems, and propose what the next version of the software will do. Then we’ll validate that with our users, to make sure we understood them correctly. Once we get that validation, we develop the software and go into the early adopter phase where we go to the user and say, “Can you work with us and help make sure this really does work?” If not, we’ll change it before it goes out to the rest of the world. That’s usually a relatively short period of time, because we’re very good at what we do. Some of the users we talked to here (at Bentley Systems (YII 2017)) are interested in being part of that early-adopter stage, which I’m excited about. Hopefully, we’ll have them in awards for next year.