Innovation Ecosystem


The water sector is transforming from science and engineering centric to a more technology-enabled customer focus. The transformation is being driven by the emergence of new consumer and network technologies, and ever-increasing customer demands, environmental concerns and economic globalization. The water sector is also rapidly being affected by the global megatrend of digitization. In an era of rapid transformation, where advancing technology, climate change, dynamic supply chains, resource limits, and other factors will demand adaptive solutions, the culture and pace of innovation in the water sector needs to change to provide the level of service and efficient resource stewardship that the public expects.

Topics Discussed

· What is Innovation Ecosystem?

· How to create a culture of Innovation Ecosystem and what are the barriers to doing so?

· What are the potential opportunities for innovation in the delivery and operation of one water services?

· How to stimulate and advance collaboration between researchers, non-profits, agencies, and industry?

· How to foster an inclusive ecosystem of scholars and stakeholders for technology transfer?

· What features and systems are needed for establishment of a sustainable “innovation cycle?”

Key Findings

Achieving the Smart One Water (SOW) vision requires strengthening the innovation ecosystem in the water sector, which will be a primary aim of the potential SOW Center. Research is essential for innovation in any sector, and universities have an important role in this part of the innovation ecosystem. University research in collaboration with water utilities and other members of the innovation ecosystem network (planners, designers, constructors, operators, suppliers, managers, users) is needed to develop and advance technologies, methods, and systems that will facilitate the realization of SOW. An important focus of investigation and collaboration activities should be on new technologies for sensing and automated data acquisition, processing, and interpretation; and on automated control and actuation based the data. As increased automation and connectivity through IoT brings challenges related to cybersecurity and data privacy, these will also be important areas of investigation.

Innovation Ecosystem Workshop Report - Click here to download

Key Presentations

Workshop Overview - Dr. Sunil K. Sinha

Dr. Sunil Sinha is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Director of Sustainable Water Infrastructure Management (SWIM) Center of Excellence at Virginia Tech. Dr. Sunil Sinha is a National Science Foundation (NSF) Career Award recipient in the area of sustainable water infrastructure management systems. Dr. Sinha was seed behind “90-minutes” PBS documentary titled “Liquid Assets: The Story of Our Water Infrastructure,” that throws light on a long-buried problem — America’s aging water system. He has given many NPR interviews and featured as a water infrastructure expert in a History Channel documentary titled “The Crumbling of America.”

Video Recording



Digital Transformation in Water - Jovita Nsoh

Principal Program Manager - Microsoft

Azure Core Engineering team - part of Cloud + AI Group.

Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Jovita loves to work hard, have fun, and always bring a positive attitude and energy in everything he does. He strives to cultivate a growth mindset culture, where we learn from our collective successes and failures. He is obsessed with customer success and finding simple, innovative solutions. He loves technology, especially those that enhance human ingenuity. He is also a curious and quick learner with strong business and technical knowledge in competitive cloud platforms such as Azure, AWS, and GCP.

He is a current doctoral student at the College of Engineering & Computer Science, Colorado Technical University (CTU), Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States (graduating 2021). His current research interests include security for emerging trends and technologies such as Industrie 4.0, 5G, Internet of Things (IoT), and Artificial Intelligence (AI), respectively.

Video Recording

01 Jovita_H2O Digital Transformation_JNsoh.pdf


One Water Digital Innovation - Albert Cho

Vice President and General Manager for Advanced Infrastructure Analytics - Xylem.

Mr. Cho is responsible for the company’s newest business, which focuses on intelligent infrastructure diagnostics and decision support services across water, wastewater and energy infrastructure. Previously, he led strategy, mergers and acquisitions, market intelligence, and business development activities at Xylem.

Video Recording

02 Xylem - NSF ERC intro presentation


Houston Water Overview - Dunne and Rabbi

Fazle Rabbi - Houston Water

Mr. Rabbi serves as a Managing Engineer, leading an advanced GIS, Modeling, Planning and Analytics-Driven Decision Support team of Houston Water. Fazle’s team is responsible for developing long-range and 5-year CIP plans and providing support to Houston Water Operations team with actionable insights. Fazle is a Registered Professional Engineer in the state of Texas and has more than 35 years of experience in water planning.

Video Recording

03 Houston Water-Utility-of-the-Future 06-10-2020.pdf


Asset Management and Intelligent Management System - Walter Graf

Program Director - Strategic Asset Management and Intelligent Water Systems - Water Research Foundation (WRF)

Directs Strategic Asset Management (SAM) and Intelligent Water Systems (IWS) Research at the Alexandria office, directed the recently completed USEPA Aging Water Infrastructure cooperative agreement with cumulative budgets of $10+ million.

Video Recording

04 Walter - intro slides - NSF innovation platform 6-10-20.pdf


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