Saudi Arabia has been one of the most affected countries by COVID-19 in the region. Iago Vazquez, Country Manager in Saudi Arabia, explains the current situation in the area, and which measures have been taken to overcome unprecedented times. Iago is responsible for managing all operations not only in Saudi Arabia, but also in bordering countries such as UAE or Bahrain.
Q. How is COVID-19 affecting everyday life?
As in many places, COVID-19 hit Arabia in March and brought immediate consequences to the daily lives of citizens. The kingdom has reported the highest number of cases in the Gulf region, with over 90,000 confirmed cases and almost 500 deaths.
Like other GCC countries, stringent measures have been taken to curb the outbreak, including the closure of offices, cinemas and restaurants. All international flights were suspended and land crossing through borders was allowed just to commercial loads.
In April, the government imposed a 24-hour curfew on the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, as part of the measures aimed at containing the virus, and it was not relaxed until the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan. In addition, Saudi Arabia imposed a five-day lockdown starting on the last day of Ramadan to mitigate the increase of contagions.
Q. How can GoAigua technology be applied?
The coronavirus crisis shows that it is necessary to apply digital tools to remotely manage service operations and work from home. The correct management of water, sanitation and purification services is more fundamental than ever. It is key to minimize the exposure of workers to the virus, but also to ensure the continuity and quality of water services.
GoAigua is a very valuable tool for this. An important benefit is the possibility of obtaining an accurate diagnosis of events and identifying behavior patterns. GoAigua can also adapt to changes in consumption patterns, adjusting the criteria that trigger alerts.
Q. What is the most relevant technology to manage this crisis?
Smart Metering technology has become especially relevant. It even allows to offer added-value services, like the detection of lack of consumption in households of elderly people, which triggers an alert to their relatives. Thanks to GoAigua, operators can receive work orders directly in their phones or tablets, leaving straight from home and managing incidences quickly.
GoAigua’s technological solutions detect leaks in the network, minimizing repair times and achieving water savings. During a lockdown, this functionality is very useful for citizens, who can receive alerts for leaks in second homes.
Our Digital Twin simulates scenarios and helps in decision-making processes. It prevents problems to minimize breakdowns or service interruptions. Different issues, like new regulations to be followed, can be evaluated beforehand to adapt operations.
Q. How do you see the future? Do you think this crisis will bring changes to the management of water services?
Yes, and some of them can already be seen. This pandemic will require the digital transformation of companies, and new technologies will be developed and implemented to satisfy the new needs. For example, this lockdown has highlighted the importance of an efficient management and a high-quality water supply service. Other aspects, such as systems for advanced leaks detection or COVID-19 early warning, are becoming a must.
This is an inflection point for the water management sector, which will accelerate the implementation of new methodologies and technologies that were already defined, but still in the “waiting room”, due to different concerns and priorities.
Current circumstances are challenging, but this new scenario represents an opportunity for success. GoAigua technology facilitates decision-making processes in short time to guarantee the best service of water treatment and supply.