Failing to transform your infrastructure can really stink

Posted: May 29, 2019

At the end of the 19th century, there were about 150,000 horses living and working in New York City being used to pull wagons, cable cars, and omnibuses. The problem – each horse produced approximately 22 pounds of manure each day. New York City could not deal with the 45,000 tons of horse waste produced each month, creating a stench and insect problem that would be hard to fathom today.

Similarly, in 1894 the Times of London forecast that the capital of England would be under 9 feet of manure by the middle of the 20th century. To address this challenge, cities from around the world gathered at the world’s first Global Urban Development Conference in 1898 for a 10-day summit primarily focused on how to alleviate the pervasive horse droppings problem. But after three days of brainstorming and making no progress, the attendees frustratingly called off the event with no solution in sight. A smelly situation indeed.

Fortunately, a transformation in transportation was just around the corner. With the emergence of the internal combustion engine and the automobile as a viable replacement for horses, cities soon found themselves digging out from under their manure problem. The failure of the first Urban Development Conference was that they were trying to solve the manure problem, not looking at how they could transform transportation as a whole.

Fast forward to present day. Infrastructure operators, such as city public works departments, building managers, airport, rail, port, and other transportation authorities, data center operators, and other organizations share a common set of challenges around providing safe and reliable service to their customers. Ageing infrastructure, capital budget restrictions, tighter environmental policies, and dynamic security concerns strain the ability of these operators to meet the service levels expected.

Infrastructure operators are increasingly turning to technologies such as IoT, Cloud, Mobility, Big Data, Analytics, and Digital Twins to transform the operations and asset lifecycles of their infrastructure. For example, when the City of Bremen needed to modernize the heating systems in several of its buildings, it realized that instead of a simple upgrade, the technology now existed to completely transform the way they managed their extensive portfolio of properties (comprising of more than 1,200 municipal facilities, and covering over 1.8 million square meters of floor space).

At the time, six control stations across the city were running a variety of proprietary building control systems. Reporting and sharing information in a consistent format was a challenge for the five regional supervisors, and employees had to learn to operate each of the different systems separately. By digitally transforming their approach to building management using open, hardware-agnostic software solutions from AVEVA, the City of Bremen was able to centralize the management of all their properties, giving regional supervisors access to all the buildings at once. By managing the properties holistically, the city was able to reduce energy consumption by as much as 18%, and create substantial cost-savings.

Similar case studies of infrastructure operators digitally transforming their operations include: a water utility arming their employees with mobile technology to make their rounds more efficient, a water network operator using a digital twin to forecast their ability to serve their customers, an airport unifying their control systems to move passengers reliably and securely, and a rail operator managing thousands of miles of track and stations.

At the AVEVA World Summit in Singapore, we are bringing together customers just like these to discuss how infrastructure operators can minimize risk, reduce costs, optimize operations, and speed crisis response through Digital Transformation.

We will be sharing successful implementations, looking at the latest innovations in tech, and helping you make sure you are asking the right questions along your digital transformation journey – not just “solving the manure problem”, but instead thinking about digital transformation holistically to transform your assets and operations. Join us in Singapore, 16-18 September 2019.


Industrial Software. Limitless Possibilities.

Contact AVEVA
Live Chat
Schedule Demo