The information technology and infrastructure management worlds are understandably enamored with metrics and benchmarks data lately. But while collecting data and providing dashboards is great, it’s not enough. As an article on the EPM Channel website explains, it’s not how much data you can capture but rather how actionable that data is.

The key is to have a vision through the whole data management process, although organizations do have to start at phase one, which is instrumentation. That means getting sensors in place, collecting the data, running the system in real-time and visualizing the data in a meaningful way. Visualization is vital: If your team members aren’t being given clear visuals or instructions, you’re probably still leaving too much to interpretation.

After you have instrumentation established, it’s possible to consider interconnection and intelligence, the next two steps in the three-phase process. This is the phase where a municipality or company will look at efficiency and usage in its infrastructure management systems.

For example, in a water supply system, are the pumps running efficiently? Could money be saved if they ran at different times?

Let’s look at this in terms of what Element Blue did at Desert Mountain, an Arizona-based golf course and residential community that is using IBM analytics to reduce water usage, cut operating costs and save money. In developing Desert Mountain’s system, we layered in energy costs for water and power along with fertilizer, gas, raw materials and even workforce availability. We then used those initial layers as a sandbox to help develop more customizable¬†and advanced features.

An undertaking of this magnitude is a long process that requires a well-thought-out vision of the entire process. However, investing this level of time in requirements planning will ultimately bring greater returns in terms of the efficiency of your system.

With rules in place, a high level of unique functionality is possible. for instance, if water is flowing out of a certain valve at less than a specific number of gallons per minute, a pop-up notification can be generated. It can even include instructions on how to remedy the issue. This type of clear direction for your team will greatly reduce the possibility of data misinterpretation or human error.

Just remember that the key is to start with step one. You must have the instrumentation and interconnection before laying the intelligence on top.


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