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The Past and Future of Water Infrastructure Software

The Past and Future of Water Infrastructure Software

By Luke Carothers

Colby Manwaring has made a career out of creating and delivering water infrastructure software.  Starting his career as a software developer at a small startup company, Manwaring progressed through product management, sales and marketing, technical training, and continuing education.  Eventually, this progression saw Manwaring move into roles that required leadership, strategic business planning, and execution.  However, although Manwaring has been in many different positions within the industry, his focus has always been on developing software that helps water infrastructure experts plan, design, simulate, operate, or maintain their projects.  Manwaring is drawn to the challenges that come along with water infrastructure solutions.  He notes that, from the perspective of infrastructure, there is constant pressure on the water supply, and that events like natural disasters further exacerbate this pressure.

Manwaring currently serves as the VP of Innovyze for Autodesk.  Before being acquired by Autodesk two years ago, Innovyze has a history that goes back nearly four decades.  According to Manwaring, who served as CEO for Innovyze, the company was an “aggregation of several specialist software companies…pulled together over a couple of decades to deliver an end-to-end solution for water infrastructure software.”  When Manwaring joined Innovyze, the company was focused on expanding their usability and adaptability to respond to more modern water problems.  According to Manwaring, water infrastructure software was largely focused on designing and building new systems.  In a natural progression, water infrastructure software has now had the challenge of further adapting to maintain these systems,  Manwaring also points out that maintenance is just one part of these modern challenges as water infrastructure experts need to utilize various add-ons to their already existing water models.

Around five or six years ago, Manwaring and his team at Innovyze began to notice a gap in the processes that define water infrastructure software.  While there had been significant progress made from a modeling and processes perspective, there were gaps in communication between the engineers, designers, operators, and maintainers.  Manwaring and his team at Innovyze set about bridging these gaps with a software solution that would facilitate communication from the designer through the lifecycle of a project to the end-users.  This represented a paradigm shift in water infrastructure software with technologies having to change from project design to continuous lifecycle analytics.  This way of deploying water infrastructure software is beneficial in that it reduces errors as a project moves through its lifecycle–helping designers and operators.  It also provides tools for the decision-makers at water utilities.  With a better understanding of how their system operates, its design, and its maintenance, these decision-makers have access to information that will help them better shape their decisions for the future.

Around two years ago, Autodesk acquired Innovyze, which further expanded the software they had been developing.  Manwaring, who now serves as VP of Innovyze for Autodesk, notes that this move allowed them to “connect together water infrastructure and intelligence with the design-build aspect of infrastructure…particularly in construction services.”  Now under the banner of Autodesk, Innovyze recently announced the release of its Info360 product, which is part of the Info360 Cloud Platform.  This platform is unique in that it creates and powers digital twins using data created from planning and construction operations, centralizing all the information about a particular piece of water infrastructure.  This centralization of information helps utilities such as water treatment plants monitor their operations and optimize them for the future.  The Info 360 Platform is a cloud-based operational analytics platform that provides data analysis and workflows to monitor the performance and compliance of a water treatment plant, and, ultimately, recommend and generate operational parameters that will improve aspects of the treatment plant.

As the AEC industry looks for ways to reduce energy consumption and move towards a greener future, water infrastructure is a good place to start.  According to Manwaring, the largest cost for water utilities is electricity, which can be greatly reduced by optimizing the use of the electrical equipment.  Furthermore, Manwaring points out that this centralization of information provides a tremendous advantage when submitting environmental paperwork to the EPA.  By providing the software framework to support it, Manwaring and his team at Autodesk are pushing the AEC industry towards a future in which real time data provides important planning and forecasting for the future.

Luke Carothers is the Editor for Civil + Structural Engineer Media. If you want us to cover your project or want to feature your own article, he can be reached at lcarothers@zweiggroup.com.