#WWAC2013 Importance of automation, data analytics & cybersecurity in water/wastewater

“Our secret is our focus,” (Lindeman)
Almost capacity attendance at symposium

Large attendance at symposium

The 2013 ISA Water/Wastewater and Automatic Controls (WWAC) Symposium, continuing the precedent set last year enjoyed record attendance numbers.  Held in Orlando, Florida, USA, in early August in Orlando (FL USA), the symposium attracted more than 250 attendees. Additionally, the symposium’s two short courses, one on in-depth cybersecurity and the other on water flow meter selection/sizing, were sold out with more than 40 participants from water and wastewater utilities from across North America.

wwac2013att

Wrapt attention at one of the sessions

The record attendance numbers, which represent more than a 50% increase from the previous year, highlight the growing importance of automation, data analytics and cybersecurity in the municipal water/wastewater sector. The surge in attendance is also testament to the symposium’s continued focus on today’s challenges in automation, instrumentation and SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) for the important role that water/wastewater holds in our public infrastructure.

Now in its eighth year, the annual ISA WWAC symposium is experiencing a new-found growth in popularity thanks to growing alliances with the Water Environment Federation (WEF), the Florida Section of the American Water Works Association (FSAWWA), the Florida Water Environment Association (FWEA) and the Instrument Testing Association (ITA). By forming strong partnerships with other associations, the symposium has been able to reach out to automation, instrumentation and SCADA professionals across the industry. For members of these associations, the symposium represents targeted professional development, training and networking opportunities that they could not find elsewhere.

“Our secret is our focus,” says Bob Lindeman, the past-President of ISA who gave the opening remarks at the symposium. “Our annual ISA water/wastewater symposium specifically caters to the needs of professionals involved with automation, instrumentation and SCADA in the municipal water and wastewater sectors. It is a niche event and we are proud of its increasing popularity. There is no other event like it in North America.”

The symposium is also specifically positioned so that municipal utilities could easily send their staff. Thanks to the symposium’s sponsors, including Schneider Electric, Phoenix Contact, Cooper Bussmann/Eaton, IBM, Yokogawa, and Eramosa Engineering, among others, the symposium was able to offer inexpensive registration rates for all its attendees. Additionally, thanks to partnerships with the AWWA and WEF, attendees were able to gain approved Continuing Education Units (CEUs) and Professional Development Hours (PDHs) that could be used towards continuing education requirements for a wide variety of state-issued operator, engineering and technician licenses.

Like all ISA events multiple opportunities for networking with peers

Like all ISA events there were multiple opportunities for informal networking with peers

Attendees were treated to hot breakfasts, fully catered lunches and an exhibitor hall where they could learn about new products and services. The symposium’s exhibitors, who were all focused on automation, instrumentation and SCADA products and services, enjoyed the show’s focus and the ability to talk with attendees in a targeted, yet intimate, atmosphere. There are lots of pictures of the event and peripheral events here!

This year’s technical program featured some 42 speakers, arranged in two parallel speaking tracks, who spoke on a variety of SCADA-related topics. Presentations ranged from advanced process control, instrumentation and alarm management techniques to better control room design, SCADA retrofit, and cybersecurity best practices.

Headliner speakers included a keynote by IBM’s Carey Hidaka on the advantages of data analytics; an invited talk by John Cusimano about the state of cybersecurity in municipal water plants; and an invited talk by P. Hunter Vegas who gave a humorous, yet highly informative, presentation on some of the challenges associated with SCADA retrofit projects. Guest presenters also included speakers from the ISA Tampa Bay section, the Water Environment Federation, and the Florida Section of the AWWA.

As a lasting benefit of the symposium, this year’s participants also received copies of the conference proceedings in a two-volume bound book and PDF-based digital versions, which made it easy for them to take their newfound knowledge home with them.

In the symposium’s closing remarks, the General Symposium Chair Graham Nasby, of Eramosa Engineering, spoke about the need for greater collaboration in the sector. He also talked about the growing importance of automation, instrumentation and SCADA in the municipal water/wastewater sector, and how the ISA WWAC Symposium is a natural “niche event” that specifically caters to professionals involved with these unique aspects of our collective public infrastructure.

• The next, the 2014 ISA WWAC Symposium is scheduled also in Orlando (FL USA) for 5-7 August 2014. If you wish to submit a paper or get more information download details here (pdf)

About Eoin Ó Riain

Sé Read-out iris uaithoibríoch, ionstraim agus stiúradh na hÉireann agus an "Signpost" a áit ar an idirlín! Read-out is Ireland's journal of automation, instrumentation and control and the Instrumentation Signpost is it's web presence.
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