The future is arriving at an unprecedented pace. District leaders need to understand how to prioritize and securely deploy these emerging to solve future challenges and obtain operational success, district officials from California said Sept. 17 at a webinar hosted by Government Technology.

For Sree Pulapaka, vice president and chief information officer for San Antonio Water System, leveraging emerging technology for operational success is nothing new. As an agency that serves a large base, “we have done a fair bit when it comes to deploying emerging technology,” he said.

But leveraging emerging technology, he added, is not a choice. The pandemic accelerated demand for IT modernization and raised digital expectations among executive leadership and constituents. And according to Pulapaka, it’s more important than ever for special district leaders to understand how emerging technologies can impact their organizations.

Johnathan Cruz, director of Financial Planning and Innovation for the Moulton Niguel Water District, CA, said his agency realized they were approaching a financial and time-consuming issue, more extensive and more significant datasets.

“We have all this data that we store and capture, but it quickly becomes siloed and not useful for us. This data processing aspect is going to be a huge, time-consuming task for our workforce. So, we have all this data that we know that is going to get bigger,” Cruz said.

Therefore, the agency deployed an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), an integrated system of smart meters, communications networks, and data management systems that enables two-way communication between utilities and customers. These pipelines draw in data and create effective identifiers that allow the agency to tie in other pieces of supplemental information.

“We can leverage that information quickly and get that information into the hands of decision-makers,” Cruz said. “We’re getting to the point in California, especially with the drought, where we need to make sure we know where the water is and where it’s going to. Making sure that we find a way that we can be as cost-effective and keep our rates as affordable as possible is essential.”

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk State and Local Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.