Artificial intelligence (AI) is an area of computer science that emphasizes the creation of intelligent machines that work and react like humans. Examples may include things such as;

  • Learning,
  • Planning,
  • Problem Solving and;
  • Speech Recognition.

AI is being used in areas such as pipeline assessment and asset condition. Static and dynamic pressures, condition of pipelines and other internal and external conditions can be used to assess risk and likely remaining life. Given that pressure surge is the main cause of water leaks in water pipelines, using artificial intelligence algorithms and models to accurately predict surges will go a long way in reducing water leaks.

AI works best when used across multiple data sources and or organisations. For example, drone imagery can be combined with other organisational systems like asset registers to improve the level of the information. Imagery captured by drones is assessed in tandem with the statistical risk models to gauge the actual condition of an asset. The unstructured data analysis validates the theoretical model, which then trains itself.

Machine learning is also a core part of AI. Learning without any kind of supervision requires an ability to identify patterns in streams of inputs, whereas learning with adequate supervision involves classification and numerical regressions.

Machine learning is being used in the management of climate change. Predictions concerning weather patterns, floods, droughts, and asset failures are thus more reliable because the impact of weather on field assets is continually analysed in real time.

AI is currently only being used in specific areas, usually in conjunction with universities and technology companies undertaking research and development. AI tools are now freely available to all. A good example of this is the IBM Watson product. Many third-party organisations are now starting to provide services in this area and it is expected to become mainstream over the next 5 years.

Once this occurs it has the possibility to change all parts of our businesses.

David Nixon has worked in industry for over 30 years across a variety of utilities, engineering and business consultancies. David currently acts as director and advisor to a variety of organisations across Australia. david@nixonclarity.com