with 🎙️ Luke Butler, Director of Innovation at Qatium
💧 Qatium is a new frontier in digital water management, giving utilities of all sizes the visibility to improve network performance, identify efficiencies and ensure continuity of service.
What we covered:
🍎 How Water Networks are invisible and how much of a challenge this creates for Water Management
🍏 How a Water Model allows you to look into it and answer “What if” questions
🧮 How to build a “Digital Twin,” you need to go through a series of processes and what these are
🍏 How there’s much more in Water Modeling than what most people use them for today
🍎 How complex it can be today to build, run and leverage a Water Model, and what Qatium intends to do to solve it
🍏 How Qatium envisions building a single source location where every decision can be made
🧮 The challenge of providing freemium software in a market educated to much more expensive approaches
🍏 How Qatium is exploring a path that’s already been tried in the past, but from the other end
🍏 How onboarding 150 Utilities in 3 months is probably a good proof of product-market fit
🪃 How Qatium’s open-source approach unfolds a path for market places and service offerings
🍎 How sensitive it still is, to mention that in the long run, modeling tools may be able to take decisions and actuate the networks
🍏 How every person that counts in the Water Industry seems to be on Qatium’s board – and how of an Industry’s UFO Qatium’s marketing is
🍏 Leak Detection, Roadmap, Stepping on other people’s toes, AI vs Modeling… and so much more!
🔥 … and of course, we concluded with the 𝙧𝙖𝙥𝙞𝙙 𝙛𝙞𝙧𝙚 𝙦𝙪𝙚𝙨𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙨 🔥
Teaser: Hydraulic Modeling made Easy
🔗 Have a look at Qatium’s Website
🔗 Come say hi to Luke on LinkedIn
is on Linkedin ➡️
Infographic: Hydraulic Modeling made EasyLuke-Butler-Qatium-Hydraulic-Modeling-for-All
Quotes: Hydraulic Modeling made EasyLuke-Butler-Hydraulic-Modeling-Qatium
These are computer-generated, so expect some typos 🙂
Get Season 2's Summary!
Antoine Walter: Hi, Luke, welcome to the show. I, as fun. Nice to be here. I have to say it’s quite a rare setup on that podcast because most of the time. I’ve never met physically the people which come on that microphone. So you’re an exception I’ve seen you physically last week at Aquatech actually. Yeah, but it’s sounds like you’re back on the other side of the Atlantic.
So let’s start with our good old traditions. So with the postcard, so what can you tell me about Toronto? Where are you at right now that I would ignore.
Luke Butler: That’s a tough opening question. What would you
Antoine Walter: ignore? Well, the favorite place you somewhere, you would recommend me about Toronto. Keep in mind. I was never in Toronto, so it’s, it’s going to be an easy one, honestly.
Luke Butler: Uh, well, I mean the obvious choice for everybody who comes through. Niagara falls. And I always make the Trek out. When everyone comes. I tell people to avoid the town of Niagara falls because it is a little rough around the edges, but it is a beautiful location to visit. You know, if you want the four dimensional experience on Niagara falls, it’s, it’s an interesting place, but the beauty is breathtaking and you must go.
But there are like provincial parks and some more natural beauty, a little as you go further north the cottage country. If you come at the right time of year, I don’t know the exact amount of stats. It’s something crazy, like 40% of the world’s freshwater and there’s lakes everywhere. So, you know, if you hang around Toronto, it can seem a little like a little USA, but if you go north it’s where their real natural beauty is.
And you’ll see some like beautiful cottage country and an endless amount of lakes that they can’t even name because there’s so much. So that’s
Antoine Walter: a start very related to water, which of course is going to be at the heart of what we discussed today. But actually, you know, let me start with an unconventional part of that, of that discussion, which is I’m going to talk a bit about me.
You know, I’m a water engineer, I’m a hydraulic engineer, even if I take it to the root. So I had some course 10 years ago was something about hydraulic modeling. And if there’s one thing, which I was sure when I took that course is that I don’t want to do that. It’s not, it’s not for me. And it sounds to me like you’re the exact opposite to that.
Like you’ve discovered that in it that, Hey, that’s my thing. So is that a, uh, rights understanding?
Luke Butler: Yeah, I mean, I don’t think I purposely chose out to be a hydraulic engineer. I don’t think I purposely. To be, you know, water engineer to start with, you know, you’re, you’re what, you’re 16, 17. You have to choose what you want to do for the rest of your life.
My dad was a software programmer, which is where I get a lot of my coding skills from. And I ended up, you know, I was doing all Massell science in high school, my goal to engineering. That’s what you do if you do those things and turns out half my family was engineer. So it was maybe a wise choice and, you know, ended up in a group study study group.
And there was one engineer who works with water utility, and it sounded really interesting. So then I started doing those electives and it wasn’t really, until I got into. The water utility that I really knew about water modeling. At least the water distribution modeling. I had done it, some light stuff, but the stuff you need really, really doesn’t count.
And my role was hydraulic modeling. I didn’t really love it when I was first in Australia, like it was sort of a means to an end. It was doing some things we do. Cool bits and pieces and it wasn’t until I left Australia. And then I went to specifically the UK that I found out that there was a whole nother world of hydraulic modeling that was much more advanced and it seemed like everything we were doing was almost a sort of baby little tiny work.
And once your eyes open up to this whole more complex world, it seemed much more interesting. And that’s where I guess my, my love for hydraulic modeling sort of blossomed from that.
Antoine Walter: So that was when you were in the UK and then you continued that to, of the Commonwealth, which led you now to Canada. Yes.
And, um, what I’ve noticed also, because, you know, I discussed with some of my colleagues and I said, Hey, I’m going to talk with Luke better. And they said, the Luke Booker read that one. Yeah. That one. And the first thing they told me is that that guy is doing all, some things with open source. So it sounds like it’s like your, your, your second family name, open source.
How did that start? And what do you believe around that? I mean, what’s the philosophy behind hydraulic modeling, open source. What do you try to achieve?
Luke Butler: Yeah, maybe this is just, just the way that I operate. Like I enjoy doing things openly discussing it. I think that the industry is at its best when everyone is sharing what they do.
And I think that really shows in the software development industry. There’s a whole ecosystem. That’s it just built around open openness and open source software, big enterprise solutions run off open source and even some commercial applications. Well, they thrive off a core of open source, but you really don’t see that very much in the water industry.
Maybe you get together. Once or twice a year to a conference. And even some of those presentations that are a little bit secret, if you don’t know all the difference. And my preference is always like, let’s just tell people about it. It doesn’t have to be, you know, once or twice a year and only give away a little bit.
Like, I always wanted to tell everyone the truth, Watson, all, okay, this is how. It’s done. And open-source was just one of those ways that I did it. You know, anything that I’ve built or developed, I would share openly with others, maybe just as a creative way, and then also the results and the findings of it.
I would openly discuss, okay. I tried these things that these work and I felt it was just a change that we needed in the industry. Yeah, do things a little bit differently. And, and honestly it really resonated if you’ve seen my LinkedIn profile, you get hundreds of likes on my only had a few thousand followers, but people in industry really seem to enjoy this different approach where you are openly sharing what you did, which maybe I was in a fortunate position because I was working for myself.
I could do that. Maybe a lot of engineers don’t have that opportunity. And maybe that was just a breath of fresh air that everybody was looking for in the industry. Just doing things a little bit.
Antoine Walter: Well, actually about that element of doing things differently, you know, we would be talking of Qatium in just a second and, uh, I can list a lot of things which kitchen was doing differently.
And we’ll come back to that. I think there’s the business model element. There’s the way you launched the, when you, you, you present yourself, but I’ll keep that for the second part or a deep dive, because right before I have the feeling that I’ve jumped a bit to fit forward into. Hydraulic modeling as if everyone would know exactly what it is, but I think we have to take just a step back and just say, okay, what is hydraulic modeling and what is it used for?
Luke Butler: Yeah, that’s a good question. I think, you know, engineering is such a large space, the water utility, and then you work your way down to the specializations engineering, hydraulic modeling. It’s a really S I guess a small area of expertise that most utilities will use. So hydraulic modeling is the simulation of water networks.
It could be clean water, which is the pressurized systems or the wastewater systems. The drainage is running computer simulations, all of your network. And primarily they use. Awesome. What if questions or, you know, this is the way my, my network is running. I’m trying to replicate it, how it is on a computer simulation, so that then you can extend or do things to the network to understand how it reacts extra capacity.
That changes like that. Um, yeah. So it’s all about simulations that. There’s a nice screen with like a map, because almost it gets, looks like Google maps, but with the water layout and behind the scenes, there’s these large matrix calculations that are being crunched in the background to figure out, okay, you know, what is the pressure in your network?
What are the flows through the pipes? At least that’s what you give that little insight. Like. I think it surprised a lot of people with, you know, what are utilities? You know, you have hundreds of kilometers, maybe thousands of kilometers of water mains, but a lot of it, we have no idea what’s actually happening there.
You know, we’ve got a few sensors of some locations, you know, some flow meters, maybe some pressure sensors, but it’s really only this tiny view into the network and hydraulic model lets you bridge that gap to simulate and understand, okay. You know, beyond what we can see in scale, what is actually happening in the network?
Antoine Walter: Is it the right way to say that somehow you’re building a digital. Of the network. Yeah.
Luke Butler: That is the buzzword at the moment is digital twin, you know, it’s going to say both words. Yeah. Yeah. Plus I cringed a little bit when I use it. I, I understand that’s what the interest he wants or I use it a little bit more now, but yeah, it is true.
Your chronic create a replica of the physical world with a digital representation of it. So you have a digital twin so that you can, anything you can do in the physical world, you could replicate first in a digital space.
Antoine Walter: You mentioned that most of the time you have limited information on the network, like a few sensors and not always an accurate even GIS data about your network.
And if we’ve been discussing on that microphone with Olivier Narbey, how sometimes you have pipes on the map which don’t exist and the other way around pipes that don’t exist on the map, but which are in the network in the real life. So how can you ensure that your modeling is right? If you have so few data about your name?
Luke Butler: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, and this is, I guess, where the UK really leads the charge, but other utilities do as well is the whole idea of calibration. I think a lot of the time, the initial pots of building a model or just data cleansing it’s okay. There’s gaps. You know, sometimes they didn’t even know the diameter of the pipes.
They don’t know where all the connections are. The GIS, isn’t a true representation. Sometimes things overshoot or miss. So you spend a lot, maybe the first month. Cleaning up bits of data or making assumptions where they are, the next step is to actually do the validation. So you’ll do field tests. So you’ll put out sensors and log to understand what’s happening.
So you, you know, instead of having these small insights, you’ll, you’ll give yourself a little bit more visibility to the network in the UK. They’ll typically to deploy pressure log is in north America. That will actually. To flow test because they have a different way that they design the networks and the U S compared to Europe, so will induce higher flow rates and you’ll, they’ll test the model.
So it’s sort of the way that things are working is you look, and then it ends up being like this giant puzzle, because, you know, things will be different and you have to figure out, okay, what’s the reason that’s different. Is it because. The damages are wrong. Is there a connection somewhere else? Has someone, you know, shut a valve in the middle of the network and then forgot to open it, or, you know, has the pocket condition reduced much faster than you expected?
And so you have to do those tests. So after a while it almost becomes second nature. Like, oh, I’ve seen this like small deviation in a graphing like, oh, I can change these values, which might seem magic to a graduate when you say, oh yeah. And then everything. It’s like, it’s just enough experience in these things come together, but there’s always sometimes the nightmare scenarios where you just don’t know.
Like, I remember there was a big pipe off for four pipes going down to multiple tanks and you talked to the water utilities operators. Like we have no idea what’s going on, what it goes down there. There’s connections all over the place. And so we just try our best that yeah. Sometimes it’s still even a mystery with the models
Antoine Walter: themselves.
You said that the UK is leading the charge. And if I get your rights, it’s not the only place in the world where there’s modeling work. How widespread is it today? Is it like every single utility has a model of its network or steel? It’s an actual.
Luke Butler: No. I would say that the majority, at least in the developing world, I would say every utility has a hydraulic model.
If they either built it themselves or use it is another question. The utilities will have some type of hydraulic modeling. I don’t have a ton of experience in the developing wall, but from what I understand, it’s still common in those locations. The alternative is. Designing networks, blindly all use the old paper methods, which probably, uh, which have not been a long time.
But from my understanding, every utility that I’ve ever met has some type of hydraulic model. The question is more is how they using it day to day. Do they use it every day? Is it core of their operation or something? They pull out every five years to ask, you know, a couple of questions then put on the show.
Antoine Walter: that’s the, that’s the important part? It’s what do you use it for? You mentioned the, what if, I guess you don’t have what if every day or maybe have a lot every day. So it really depends on the way a city grows or shrinks or. How much non-revenue water you have, what is the primary use of that model?
Luke Butler: Yeah, that’s probably an easy one to answer that the primary reason is for network growth, future planning, those type of scenarios. It’s, you know, the utilities got, okay, what am I going to do over the next 25, 30 years? I’ve got X amount of customers that they’re growing in these areas. So either infill, well, you’ve got a green with new green divide.
And so they have to figure out, okay, are the pipes that I’ve got on the ground going to be suitable in the next 30 years, or I’m going to have to start planning out, okay, how am I going to replace them? You know, what do we have to do? And, you know, they’ll develop their capital works plan. They’ll sometimes it can be hundreds of millions, billions of dollars worth of plans, you know, 30 years.
And they’ll use logic model to prioritize when those will come through. It’s also the most boring of hydraulic modeling work and something that I do know her joy. And, but I know it. Needs to be done. And so definitely in the U S that’s the primary reason, the same with the UK, but yeah, that’s the real, the real reason and probably the biggest money saver or the reason why that people would use a hydraulic modeling.
Antoine Walter: that’s thestatus quo. That’s how hydraulic modeling was done so far, which you expect, I guess, to change a bit with Qatium, but right before. Discussing Qatium, what is the problem you want to solve with Qatium? What was still not resolved and that you, I mean, this, each that you were scratching and which led you to creating case.
Luke Butler: Yeah, I, I see hydraulic models having so much more potential than just being something that’s pulled out already five years to write up a big plan on where you want to build your infrastructure. They can be used now to understand what’s happening in network. Yeah, either incidents, or if you want to change the way operations of your network is running.
And this is where I sort of touched on the UK that they using the hydraulics models much more in that day-to-day operations and understanding of how the network’s running in the UK. And a much through Europe, they’ve got DMA, a district meted areas, and they’ll, they’ll constantly change and tweak them.
You know, they’ll change the hydraulic boundaries depending on what’s happening in the network, or if there’s. Tank shutdowns. The first thing they’ll do is, oh, let’s run the hydraulic model and ask the question. So there are, you know, you can get a little bit more appreciation instead of just maybe running through and changing the air conditioning.
It’s right. That gives you that bit of insight. But the problem I saw was that they were still, well, it’s really good in the UK. It’s still really required. I have very specific set of people to run these hydraulic models. You need to be trained in hydraulics hydraulics to understand how it works, to start using the software.
And it’s not even just the hydraulics of it. You know, operators are very knowledgeable people. They understand hydraulics, maybe even in some ways better than the engineers themselves, but if you’ve ever seen corporate software, Uh, it can be very intimidating when you, you open up a hydraulic modeling platform for the first time and you’ve got literally a hundred buttons in front of you, different menus.
And then all that will come back as a big red screen. If something goes wrong, some cryptic message it’s it is not a user-friendly approach. So. I felt me personally before I joined Kadian, but there was much more opportunity to, to make hydraulic models accessible to other people, just to be able to, you know, even that little sphere around hydraulic motors, maybe, you know, maybe they could use it or even maybe just making the hydraulic models life just easier.
Right. There’s just so much complexity that maybe, you know, it, things have grown a little bit too large. Maybe we need to look back and ask the question of why is the software like it is right.
Antoine Walter: You’re the director of innovation of Qatium. Right? So if you had to one sentence pitch of catch him, is it a hydraulic modeling for the layman or whatever?
Luke Butler: I would say, well, that’s, that’s a good one. It would be, you know, hydraulic models accessible for all really. It’s not, layman was probably too mean of a sentence. Like I said, the people that we want to give these two accessible to a very knowledgeable people, but it’s really the software that lets them down that the user interfaces.
So it’s really making it. Shouldn’t. Just the people. It’s also the size of the utilities as well. So I think I, one of my slides at Aquatech I live with big or small, a Hodge digital twins accessible for all. I didn’t mean to make it rhyme, but it, it, it happened. And so that’s probably the big pitch that we’re trying to go.
Antoine Walter: that they’re all knowledgeable, but let me come back to my opening example, which is myself. And then I can very, very happily say that’s that wasn’t really for me. And I remember we had some, some work with modeling and my mother was running very smoothly and was very happy. And I got a two on 20, something like that, just because, you know, the model was very happy, but I forgot that’s on one side, there wasn’t a wall, so water should have flown in that direction.
And he didn’t. So just to say that. Sometimes the user can still be on the critical path and not notice something wrong about a calculation. Is it something that. It’s really me, which is really stupid or it’s something quite common. And please tell me it’s common.
Luke Butler: It is common. I mean, you get overloaded with information in these hydraulic models, unless you know where to look and to understand some of these issues that they can go past it.
You can find hydraulic models from other users where are. You know, you get another set of eyes on it and you’re like, oh, you totally missed that. These customers have no supply because the pressure’s incorrect or, you know, you have a very small pipe that’s, you know, is, was done incorrectly. And that’s, I guess the nature of the software is that yeah, you have an almost unlimited ways that you can run and, but then you have just tables and graphs and you have to consume and understand what it is.
And that’s one of the big differences that we were really trying to do with Qatium and was that we wanted to. For those really common use cases to try to prompt the user. Okay. These are the things you’re looking for and try to give up the most important information back to you so that if there is something that is obviously incorrect, that we go back to the user and make it apparent.
So water’s not flowing in the right direction. You know, say it’s of waterflow is reversing and causing potential sediment issues, like lifting sediment that, you know, hydraulic engineer knows. Okay. Now I’ve got to check to see if anything’s over four meters a second. Okay. I know what that, what, that’s, what that means.
I’ll put in a report, but we wanted to go that step forward and say, okay, what is that? What’s the actual risk and explain it to the user.
Antoine Walter: Talking over the users. That’s right. To put myself in the shoes of a user, I’m a utility running my network. I’d like to start using Qatium. What do I need to bring?
Luke Butler: Yeah.
There’s so there’s two ways that you can start with Katie. I’m originally, before I joined and I joined about five months ago, it was all about, you know, building hydraulic models from scratch. So taking this GIS information and learning and indicating them, and there’s a little like assistant that runs you through the process of, okay, let’s connect up all your pipes, figure out what the demand is, and it figures out what the controls is and builds a hydraulic models.
For some users that don’t have anything at all, it is possible just to take your GIS information, that the mapping information of your network and build a network. But as I said earlier in the podcast, most utilities already have a hydraulic. Well, maybe they’re not perfect, but they have something and they probably already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on this.
Maybe not perfect solution. So one of the big changes I made when I was here. Okay. Maybe if these people is hydraulic models, we should at least take these and go with them. So where we see most utilities starting, if they have hydraulics taking that model that they’ve got drop indicating and be able to hit the ground running directly from that.
Antoine Walter: So you mean that you have a utility with several hundreds of dollars? Dollar his model and they are important that model to catch him, which is a freemium. How do they react to that? Like, oh, I got screwed in the past or I’m cautious for the future.
Luke Butler: Yeah. I mean, there’s a lot of suspicion when you suggest anything is going to be phrased.
So is it, oh, we’re going to sell your data. We going to do like use it for some other type of purpose. Yeah. A lot of questions that pop up, I think now that we have some more, you know, some plans that actually have prices, it’s subduing that a little bit, but yeah, there is a lot of people who come and ask, you know, what’s, what’s the cash, like why is anything free?
But in a like consumer lives, freemium applications exist all the time. Like, you know, you’ll sign up to a video game and like, oh, it’s free. Oh, I have to pay a dollar off, like to get this extra feature. Right. It’s very common. So we think that that type of model can, again, In the engineering world and I’d already sorted, it does exist a little bit in the business world, but is a very novel concept for us, but it is not new in the world.
Antoine Walter: sure. So you mean that really? It’s not a hurdle. People really accept it and it just starts using the plan.
Luke Butler: I mean, that’s what we found. That was a little bit of hesitation at the start. You know, we had to very early on, we had to have lots of discussions with people, for them to understand. I think now we’ve put a lot more information on our website explaining it, and then people can more see the pricing scheme that we’ve got.
That’s fine. You know, there’s nothing wrong with making money in the business. It’s, it’s very important to be sustainable. And then when you have these discussions with them, like, this is the reason why we think there’s a true passion within the founders to. You know, change the way the industry is going.
And they believe that the freemium model is one approach. It is also a slight marketing approach where it does help us break into markets without, you know, traditional sales approach. But if you explain, this is what we’re trying to do at its core, and there is some actual business behind it and you explain, okay, this is how we’re going to be sustainable and make some money.
People become a lot more accepting at that point.
Antoine Walter: You noted how I was using a buzzword when I said digital twin. So let me bounce another buzzword at you. Is Qatium disruptive?
Luke Butler: Yes, I would say so. I mean, it’s easy for all startups to say that disruptive. Um,
Antoine Walter: well easy. Yes or no, because you said you’re disruptive in a conservative market.
It’s not necessarily an asset. If you say you’re disruptive and you’re, Uber, people would be happy to see everything. If you say you were disruptive in an industry, which has as a first reaction often to say, yeah, we’re going that way for 20 years. It’s maybe not
Luke Butler: that. That’s a very good point. Right? And then it’s a, the example of Uber, they were disruptive much to the benefit of people, but maybe not that the governments and the people who liked it the traditional way.
So I can say that point, and maybe it’s very much the same here with that being disruptive in the space. Maybe there are, and there definitely are lots of, um, users who just, who probably don’t want the status quo to change. Um, but there are others who, who will benefit from it. So I think shaky. It often being disruptive is part of what we’re doing.
We’re not here just to give everyone a hard time. We think we can make a big difference. And I think both the business model and the application itself, um, are disruptive and very different ways of doing things.
Antoine Walter: So you’re looking first at the water network. So the pressurized water networks. I understand your roadmap.
Next one in line is the wastewater network. And then it continues. You have the irrigation networks, you have the plans and the facilities, and finally the customers and I’ve had on that microphone, many players, especially on the plant modeling sphere. I can recall the know some interview I had with Imre Takacs from Dynamita.
Are you stepping on someone tools at some point in this product roadmap or does it exist? Someone being on all these levels? What is it that you want to build on the long. Yeah.
Luke Butler: I mean, I think we’re definitely stepping on people’s toes right now. You can’t be a little bit disruptive, like at least in the water space.
And as you see, and we do have a decent roadmap that processed the entire realm of, of water, and maybe it’s a roadmap of all the people’s toes. We’re gonna step on as we go along. So maybe people will be nervous, but yeah, the, the overall vision is to be. I mean, this is maybe that’s the same as what everybody wants to be.
That one source location where, every decision can be made. Right? That’s the, the lodge vision that the founders of Katie and what we’re looking for, the owner, they wanted Katie and be the first application people open when they start that day. And then all of the decisions to come from it. I know it’s a, it’s a huge wide, you know, maybe a difficult.
To achieve. And you know, we’re talking five, 10 years in the future. It’s definitely not now. We’re just happy people open Qatium every day. But I think that the founders really wanted Qatium to be the core of everybody’s decision and not just hydraulic modelers, but everybody in the water utility, it could be an operator model, a manager doesn’t matter if they want to find information and it should be that one source of.
Antoine Walter: Let me put that question in the fridge. Cause I’ll come back to that when we in the business part, because it’s a very fascinating one, actually mentioning that roadmap. How long do you think it will take for you to deploy all of that? And the other side of that same coin once you’re everything, don’t you fear that you, you lose a bit, this advantage of being the absolute specialist of the water modeling.
Luke Butler: Yeah, it’s a good question. And even thinking about it, it scares me a little bit because, you know, I like to be small, agile change things up, but I eventually at all points you’ll grow maybe slightly larger. I honestly believe that. 10 years at least to get to that space. And I probably won’t be the director of innovation at that point.
Like my, my experience is all about the, you know, what did you shoot in networks? And I’m sure there’ll be much more knowledgeable people who will come on board and help move the plants and those things. Come
Antoine Walter: on Luke
Luke Butler: Butler, sorry. Yes. We’re going to have to, you get, if you’re a bit more experienced in a few different things, but I will be happy at least in the next two or three years, that if Qatium is like the tool for digital twins for the water space, and we’re starting to make people nervous because we’re moving into the next thing that if we people start getting excited and, and that knocking on the door, Asking for.
Okay. When are you going to do drainage? And then the established players, you know, sweating a little bit because, okay, well, they’ve gone here. What’s what’s the next, you know, we can see the roadmap and anticipating and planning for us to come in that area.
Antoine Walter: You know, th there’s this marketing saying, that’s the number one asset you need is a starving crowd.
If you’re trying to sell something to eat to people, it’s not the best burger in the world, it’s not the best cook. It’s not the best advertising, whatever. It’s a starving crowd. And that’s the part, which you cannot really control. The other side of that being that you can, of course choose where you, where you go.
So do you think you’ve identified your starving crowd? When you see that before launching you have 150 utilities that subscribed to the.
Luke Butler: Yeah. Like, I mean, the, the whole idea isn’t, you know, it’s a, it’s a pivot away from what everybody needs, right. It’s not like the totally first to do this type of application.
People have tried to develop things similar to Qadium. I think they’ve done it in a different approach where they have something established. Cut it down to make it more accessible, but where we’re really going the other way, where we’re starting from scratch and building up to what the market needs. I feel we we’ve found.
You know, I guess the other word is product market fit. Right? I, I, I would say we’re very close to that. I, I don’t think it’s perfect. The fact that, you know, in the three months sort of open beater where we invited anyone, we were able to get 150 utilities to sign up is a Testament to the fact that we are doing something different.
I know people might say, well, it’s free. Anyone can sign up. That’s true. But you know, still get people to log in. Upload uploading network is a big Asper for traditional industry. So I feel we are definitely. If we’re not on the pulse, we’re very, very close to what people are asking for. You
Antoine Walter: mentioned that the very beginning that you are an open source guy.
So the beauty of that is that you have an open roadmap for Qatium. So I was able to look upon your shoulder and to see what you’re working on right now. And I saw that you’re working on an API for Qatium. Does that mean that you’re looking at, um, a way for third bars to come and leverage your plants?
Luke Butler: Uh, yeah, yeah, exactly.
And that’s like one of the business approaches that we’re looking at. So obviously, you know, the traditional get the users to upgrade now and what through, but another area that we want to work on is this API. So that the data itself isn’t locked into a single platform that the users can choose what they want to do with their own data.
And if that’s to consume it in their own applications or work with others, we want to be able to support that. And the area that we were. Thinking that this will be good is that they almost build a marketplace or, or some other type of business opportunity on top of KTM, but to leverage the data that people have put into KTM for other uses.
So say if there’s an asset management company, that’s why so far or ones that are looking at optimizing your networks. We had hoped that these third parties could come in and start leveraging the API APIs and providing extra value to the utilities directly from the information that they’ve got in case.
Antoine Walter: Actually this, this extra value could go in two directions. You can have additional software layers, I guess, integrations into, uh, an ERP integration to a GIS. I’m really thinking out loud, but I would see another direction which would be to go somehow down in the vertical and to go down to the product level and try to integrate a bit better.
The product dynamically to you mentioned the GMA before, which is also something which we’ve defined with when it was on that microphone. How. Work with product manufacturers with sensors, manufacturer was valves manufacturers. Is it something which is somehow in your roadmap, in your.
Luke Butler: Definitely. So I guess a lot of the examples I gave was where it was going out Acadian, but we don’t just want it that way.
We want other information. And so maybe the hardware’s people are slightly more difficult to sense is definitely, I mean, the first API we’ve got is to bring in live information into KTM for the validation, but we don’t just want it to be live information. You know, say if you have some proprietary method or.
For leak detection and you’re like, okay, maybe I’ve got my little web portal, but I also want that to be within the application, say it’s not a lot of leak detection, algorithms use hydraulics. So maybe it’s a two-way street that they okay. Then we’ll take the information from the live digital twin, uh, into their, their leak algorithm.
And then it generates information, but then it sends it back. And so then you actually get the leak location in KTM itself. So we see that’s another way to partner with people. Providing services and solutions, you know, be able to go both ways. It’s that whole openness that we’re trying to.
Antoine Walter: At Aquatech you were on one of the edges of the innovation forum.
So I don’t know if you’ve seen the other edge of the innovation forum. Just on the other side of your booth. There was, um, a company called som harvesters. The CEO, Brian Moloney was on that microphone a couple of months ago, and he was explaining how their approach, which is leveraging artificial intelligence may be more flexible than the modeling.
That’s it maybe faster. I’m not just throwing that out there. I have to say I don’t take side. I don’t probably even stand it, but what would be your, your, your take there is it’s a competition. Is it something which is complementing one another?
Luke Butler: Yeah, I would say it’s complimentary. I think. For an unlimited amount I saw, and I understood enough to go back and listen to the podcasts and full now that especially when you’re doing census and you’re trying to find blockages and things like you really looking for patterns, right.
And artificial intelligence can determine those patterns and, you know, alarm and, and understand what’s what’s going on. So I think in those cases, it makes a lot more sense trying to replicate that in the model is, is much more difficult. Like people, especially, if you can see. You know, transient as a human, you can.
Okay. There’s definitely some type of leakage here. Like it doesn’t always make as much sense to model that hydraulically. Uh, I think the same thing, like plant processing as well. Like if you have, you know, a treatment system and you’re trying to figure out, okay, you’ve got your, you know, operations, and then you put that information in and you can figure it out.
So I think that’s the case. What did she mention, especially when you’re trying to. Maybe ask what if questions as it gets deeper into the network? I think you can get a little bit more iffy because the model is. Physics-based model. It has to, you know, it follows the philosophy physics and it makes answers.
But I think there is still opportunities things to work together, you know, either backfilling data, understanding the results of the hydraulic model or the difference in results. So if you have the hydraulic model and you have information coming in front of the field, and there’s a difference, things like artificial intelligence, Be that, you know, it’s normally the hydraulic engineer that says, oh, I know why this is offset.
It’s because someone’s moved the sensor or the sensor has gone wrong. The artificial intelligence can be there to help, you know, be your psychic on the side to help you understand what’s going on. And that’s why we have, uh, you, might’ve seen a little mascot here, which is our little artificial intelligence assistant.
That’s helping you try to understand a hydraulic one.
Antoine Walter: Okay. I put Q in the fridge as well. For one more question. That’s because I have one question before, and then I stopped name-dropping. But on that microphone, I had a discussion with Aaron Tartakovsky from Epic Cleantec and they are doing decentralized treatments, onsite, water reuse in buildings.
I was just wondering, you know, if I was to now look in my crystal ball in the future, maybe not next year, I mean, not in five years, but maybe 10 years, 20 years. I could imagine having this decentralized. Somewhere around the network, which are fully integrating with the modeling. And then you could have like a green light red lights.
When can I discharge into the network? When can I take water from the network to accommodate with this 70% of people, which we believing in cities by 2050? So there will be probably a nexus at some point between all those solutions is your ambition that that nexus happens on.
Luke Butler: Yeah, possibly. I mean, there’s always, these talks about, you know, the hydraulic models, almost being like a, like a read only view into the world like that, you know, when does the decisions from that thing get pushed back into day-to-day operation?
And I think originally it’s going to be the buffer between, you know, the person and the decision they’ll use the tool, but I think it would be nice one day if Katie. Bridge that gap and you know, it, it stops being okay on stand the results, click a button, then it goes, okay, well, suggest that this is what we do.
And then maybe, eventually they’ll go, okay. Maybe we’ll trust it to talk to the PLC and make decisions and try to play with it. Work. Maybe I’ll regret putting this on microphone because it makes so many people nervous. And a lot of the times they’ll have discussions. It’s no, no, it’s, it’s just read only.
We’re not, we’re not doing that, but it would be nice to one day to think that that could be the case that. Help people make those decisions in it. It does come from KTM. You
Antoine Walter: mentioned Q let’s me. Just share that with, with everyone,
Luke Butler: Isaac, actually you only contributed to 6.9% of the data, not bad for a human being.
If we were inventing a microwave who created you.
Antoine Walter: Your website and say it’s an actor from Stargate SG-1. Is you on being a stupid French? To me, the actors have started as you want to have specific fringe voices. So I couldn’t figure out who it was. Who was it?
Luke Butler: Uh, I will have to go back and double check. I know I’m Damian from a marketing team, looked her up and he had shared it and actually reached out on Twitter to her.
I apologize for forgetting that the actress’s name, but she has, she was, uh, she’s. She did the voice work for
Antoine Walter: Q4. I’ll put the reference in the episode notes. It’s just that I was curious about it. And actually that is just a very, very short extract of your. Which is called no future without water, if, for recall that right.
And it’s feelings in cinema scope. So it says even, you know, not that 16, 19 format, it’s really the cinema format. It’s a Hollywood teaser with a voice. I mean, for your robots, which is a, the voice of SG, one actor, you have a board of experts and supporters. It’s like name-dropping in the water industry, whoever you, you believe has a voice in that industry is somehow on your advisory board, you launched at Equitec last week.
And on top of that, you have the Luke Butler in the team. How is that possible? Why are you so well equipped? And are you conscious that that is really uncommon in the.
Luke Butler: Yeah, it is definitely uncommon. I guess it gives us some advantages way that Katie was born out of a water utility, um, of Valencia in Spain.
And I guess we’re very fortunate to have the backing of a water utility. So the senior leaders, a lot of them. Staff have come from global omnium in Valencia. So we’re very fortunate to have that prior knowledge and financial backing to make this sustainable. The advises, uh, are also invaluable to help us guide the product.
I think it’s very, very uncommon for most startups. Most startups are live or die by the sale right there. They have to, you know, they’re small scrappy. They’ve got to get things done. We, we try to stay that maybe. A little bit too comfortable when you have a bit of VC backing there, but you know, it’s a catch 22, right.
If you’re too small, people will go, well, how can we trust your, if you’re too big, you’re established. Right. So we’re trying to play that is that middle ground where, you know, we, we don’t want. Forced to make decisions because we have no cash, but we don’t want to be so big that we’re just like everybody else.
So yes, it is a, is an interesting place. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone else, uh, in this fortunate position I’ve seen a lot of other startups, you know, be, you know, making really cool things doing really well. And then, you know, being bought up by a large, more established player and almost disappearing from the scene because that excitement is gone or the requirement.
They’re obviously not going to say any names. Yeah, hopefully we can avoid that with what we’ve gotten, just we’ve and we know we’re very, very fortunate to, uh, in our
Antoine Walter: position. I said I would stop name-dropping my hair after name drop. I had Paul O’Callaghan from BlueTech Research on that microphone and he was presenting his thesis about water technology adoption.
And what he’s showing in his thesis is that quite contrary, intuitively the water startups have a high survival. I mean, usually startups die. That’s a bit, their fate in the industry. It’s the opposite. They live in a no-man’s lens, 90% of the start-ups even a no-man’s lens where they are not really successful, but they don’t fail neither.
And the other side of that coin is stats so far. There is no water unicorn. That’s really something that doesn’t exist. So one water company that would go to a 1 billion valuation. As you are really different in that landscape. I have to ask you this question is that’s the ambition of KTM to become that water you need.
Luke Butler: Uh, I, I would imagine, sir, I mean, the closest, I guess we got now is in a vice selling for a billion dollars. So just hit that requirement. But I mean, well, they really, they, I guess they start up, they have a very long history, but they’re obviously very, very successful and I’m sure that the VC backers who bought them up have very happy with, with their investment.
But yeah, it is interesting that these software, like, I mean, it’s a, a big market, but maybe they’re too conservative, but I feel that there should be. The ability to grow and get out there. But it seems that a lot of, like I’ve said before, a lot of this stuff. Get bought and then it sort of slows down and it goes back to the old, big corporate sales, which are nice and safe.
Like I feel, especially with the model, we’ve got a KTM that we could, or very fast and take over the market and maybe be the unicorn of, um, the, the Waterworld potentially. Like, I, I see it like the way that we’re approaching this, it is the same as traditional way that unicorns have grown out of Silicon.
Antoine Walter: Which will lead me to my favorite question in a second, but talking of your model, you have your free forever plan and then you have a premium and then you have a uproar personalized the country member, how you, you call it enterprise enterprise. So what is your, your business model what’d you expect to do it?
Do you expect to do all your revenue from your two paying plans or is there a big.
Luke Butler: I think that the main will be the customers. I think the number we’ve thrown around is we’d expect 80% of our customers to be able to use the free version. And then we would be supported by those larger established utilities that maybe have more customized needs.
You also mentioned the marketplace as a, as another potential opportunity to make sure we’re sustainable, but the way that we. Deploy the application, the way that it’s done, you know, it’s a SAS application. So like once it’s out in the cloud and it’s developed, it’s relatively cheap to run. The hydraulic model simulations are normally very computer intense and require a lot of data, but actually through my open source software, they’re running locally on the machine.
So instead of having to transfer, you know, hundreds of megabytes of data in which are very costly, all running big service, we’re running them locally on the computers. So it ends up, you know, Would only cost us cents like literal, like fractions of a sense to post and to it then. And that savings allows us to have such a, you know, a unique business model.
But we do think that it’s good. Like I said, those big players are really going to be the key to making this done, you know, and we want to still support as many users as possible, but it’s going to be things like if you feel you really need to be able to ring somebody up on a phone and talk to somebody who supporting.
You’re probably more likely the enterprise person and you you’ll probably you’ll have to pay for that. Right? If you want to an AI person and a big help desk to try to solve it, then maybe you can get away with the fray. We don’t want to disadvantage people by staying free. We just want to maybe make it a little bit easier as you go up the ranks and as with any business as we grow, I’m sure those plans will change and move around.
Deal with that. A start-up you add more value, but I think the core of what we’re still trying to do is trying to give hydraulic models to as many people as possible. And that will be primarily through that free.
Antoine Walter: So I’ve bothered many guests with that single question, which is, do you believe that hyper-growth is possibly in the water industry, but let’s me tweak it a bit because somehow you’ve explained that’s your path as to, to set it for hyper-growth you have this free forever plan, which is a way to, uh, take a big picture in the markets.
And then if it becomes. The application, according to your vision, to be the first application people are using, then you have this additional lever to go to the marketplace and everything. So it’s not, is it possible, but how do you want to achieve.
Luke Butler: Yeah, I think it’s possible. I think if you split it into bits, if, you know, could we get hyper growth and user adoption?
I think definitely, maybe not hyper growth in revenue and profitability, but I think the fact that we have a free application that anyone can use, it makes it obviously with so much friction and the ability to grow quickly. I think even from these early conversations with users where. People get just really excited by it.
Like, and I talked to some of the early adopters and like, oh, I went to three of the CDs and I told them about it and I was demoing it or they’re a consultant like, oh, I had it up as a presentation. And you know, I’m like, this is the, you know, the, the whole like viral nature of it, where if people love the product and they want to tell others, you’re not alone, get just the single channel trying to sell.
You you’ll use as a selling for you. It’s product, leg growth. You know, the product will sell itself. And I guess that’s where we also, we were trying to stand out from others, you know, the established self. Is not sold to the end-user to establish that they will build hydraulic software to, well, almost all enterprise to tick boxes, say, okay, it’s got to do these 20 things, so we better make sure it does it.
And we’ll go put in a bid to the manager and the manager will give it to the engineers. We’re turning that on its head where like, We are going to love our product because you want to use it. And if you like it enough to pay for it, you’ll pay. And so we’re giving it back to the people who are actually using it, day-to-day to make that choice for themselves.
So that’s why we think if they’re successful, if we’ve done the right thing, it, people will hit hyper-growth. And then we, we hope that we can then provide just enough extra value that then, you know, okay. Let’s, you know, then they engineers operators. So I would talk to the managers like, oh, we can benefit a little bit from having a few extra features.
Antoine Walter: Actually there’s an edgy side to these hyper-growth thing, which is you need to have deep pockets because it’s going to be hard at the beginning to be cash positive, at least. Do you have like a ticking clock on your head? Like you have two years to achieve it. Once you approach.
Luke Butler: Yeah. Yeah. There. So I think we’ve been building the product for about a year now.
So I’ve been there maybe four or five months. I think we’ve still got a little bit of time on a belt to grow. And I think this, this positive feedback that we’ve received so far is going to keep the, the, the founders and the investors, you know, happy for now that we’re not gonna have this, you know, meet me getting the boot and the sales teams coming in.
I honestly believe if we didn’t have the sales team, we’d be very sick. Tomorrow being able to sell the product, but there is a little bit of time. Hopefully I hope by the end of next year, you know, cashflow positive and go from there. But there’s no pressure at this stage for that. I think it’s all about adoption, getting people out there, which is a extremely fortunate position for any startup to be in where you think, okay, we don’t have to worry.
It’s not, you know, sell or die. Basically. We can, let’s just make sure the product’s working and go from.
Antoine Walter: You mentioned that a sales team would help you to grow, which sounds quite logical. What is your vision? There is it’s to have your own sales team at KTM or to partner with existing market players.
Luke Butler: Yeah, it’s an interesting one and there’s always these big and tone debates and exactly, you know, talk to some of the advisors that we’ve got and they’re very much like just get a sales team now. You’ll make millions it’s easy, like, and that’s probably the easy choice. And maybe later on, you know, you can look at the estate, you know, the freemium players and upgrade them with a sales team.
You could work with service providers to take revenue, sharing that type of thing. There’s a lot of different options. Because it’s more than a year away, we haven’t done anything, but it could be any of those selection. They get a sales and team work with, um, you know, service providers. I consultancies to deploy and revenue share.
There’s lots of options. And I don’t know if I think all of them would work. And I guess we just have to start testing the waters and understanding that’s. I think the thing that. Open with, with, uh, a startup, you know, you’ll never have the right solution to start with either your product or your business approach and being willing to be flexible and, you know, read the metrics, make the decision, make changes and go from there.
Antoine Walter: Well, I’m not one of your advisors and I don’t want to even compare myself with the names chaplain on that list. It’s just that, I don’t know if you’ve got the chance to walk a bit the floor at Equitec, but it turns out that. Most of the companies, which are in the water industry, I know what he’s trying to establish their platform.
And when you start in your DNA to establish a platform, it’s always going to be quite limited because you’re seeing the thing from your own lens. So I think it sounds like quite an obvious win-win if you were to partner with those players, because they would have a cool platform to leverage their hardware or their digital services, and you would have their, their food on the.
Luke Butler: A hundred percent at gray, like especially the big drawer on Katie and it’s just the visuals. And if people haven’t seen it, um, if you see the demos, like there was a lot of time span on that user experience. And it’s just, I would say a beautiful application, just so simple, so intuitive, but
Antoine Walter: that is exactly.
If you look at everything, which is existing, that markets, most of the time it’s technically working, but the user experiences.
Luke Butler: Exactly. And we have quite a few supplies come up like, oh, we have a port. But it doesn’t look like this. Like, and then it was always about like, how can we, you know, do you have APIs?
Can we connect in? And, and probably half the discussions I had was with suppliers who, who saw that the application was like, how do we get on top of this? And, you know, the early days everyone was like, oh, how do I put your product into my product? And it’s now switched the other way where like, I just want to be whatever is happening here.
Like it just enter just a totally different way. Display and application. I mean, it’s very modern. It’s very fresh. If, if you start as consumer may be like, oh yeah, it’s, it’s a nice slick website. But as a commercial application, it’s really nice. And it was actually what we led with with, uh, in Aquatech is like, we had the big screen up and we’re like, oh, what do we do presentation this I’m like, no, let’s just put Katie off there.
Just a loop. So you can actually, if you haven’t seen it, you’ve got the pipes and you can actually see the flows moving through the network. And we had so many people just stopped. Well, w what’s this and they will come and ask questions and somebody’s like, oh, so you actually have a demo of your application.
I’m like, that’s the application. I mean, what’s moving around. They were honestly surprised by it.
Antoine Walter: Let me close that deep dive with a crystal ball question. Your teaser was called, as we said before. No future without water. Is it like another vision where you have to lead all of that? Are you doing that for a mission?
Are you doing that because you want to achieve something or what will tell you that you’ve succeeded. If you’re looking in my crystal ball and look at kitchen mean.
Luke Butler: That’s a good question. The, the nerve future without water was really built to try to connect with actually people who weren’t hydraulic engineers, or even the utility themselves to talk with the consumers themselves.
It was an early attempt to, you know, resonate with consumers. And maybe personally, I don’t know if it was really the right approach. It is very slick and it sort of fits in with brand, but it was an attempt. What would I think to if we were successful? I mean, I guess. If we think really far in the future, it’s at the moment we see kingdom as being a supplementary tool for the established hydraulic modeling platforms.
Like, okay, you’ll still have this and that be on the side, but I think we’ll be really successful. I’ll know we’re successful when people are not asking all, do I also want Kadian, but do I just want Katie and where it’s the main platform for them where they don’t need to move and that might be used in the future.
But I think when we start to see utility society, oh, we don’t need. X software anymore. We can just use KTM. I think I know we’ve, we’ve made it, then
Antoine Walter: it sounds like an ambitious yet reasonable, surprisingly reasonable dream. When I see how you’re equipped to, to actually achieve that. So fingers crossed for you.
I propose you to switch to our rapid-fire questions.
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Rapid fire questions:
Antoine Walter: So in this last section, I try to ask you short questions, which you can answer with short answers. I’m not cutting the microphone if you want to, to be longer. And I’m always the one which is going to sidetrack, you would only worry. My first question is what is the most exciting project you’ve been working on?
Luke Butler: If it’s all right, I’ll flip this. And it’s not a project team. When I was a young engineer utility, I worked in a skater department and they struggled to keep engineers because they could be taken by oil and gas. So instead we worked at this manager who would just basically let us have free rein to do anything we wanted all day long, as long as the skater department was up.
And you think as a couple of young, 20 year olds, Mess around. But instead we were highly creative of building new apps, doing new things, always playing with things and always keeping skater up. But it was the most exciting team environment that I’ve ever been on. Highly creative, a lot of fun. Uh, especially as a young engineer, you tell people like, what do you do all day?
Am I going to do whatever I want? It’s fun. And like, people, like, why don’t you do nothing? I’m like, that would be boring. So, yeah, that was definitely the most exciting role project that I ever did.
Antoine Walter: Could you name one thing that you’ve learned the hard way.
Luke Butler: This is not going to be water related, but I didn’t realize how much free time I had to be creative to do whatever I wanted until I had my daughter that I realized, wow, I had so much free time to do anything and everything.
And now my whole life was well, at least. Totally consumed in somebody else’s needs and on, wow. We just like, oh, you want to sleep in and make pancakes, audio. I want to code a bunch of open source applications. Sure. I’ll do that. And then I’m like, well, I didn’t appreciate that. So while having families beautiful, you do sacrifice a bit of free time that I even knew I had, I learnt that the hard way,
Antoine Walter: there’s something you’re doing today in your job that you will not be doing in 10 years,
Luke Butler: a.
I hope maybe this is not a technical one, but I hope I never have to do another network, future plan ever again, if this whole Kadian thing goes out, but I never have to do that again. Or if there’s some way that we can totally automate that, I’ll make that easier that I would be so happy because I think I’d rather quit than have to do that again.
So let’s say 10 years I’d have to do a 30 year plan for hydraulic modeling.
Antoine Walter: What is the trend to watch out for in the water sector?
Luke Butler: Ah, I mean, maybe it’s a, it’s a boring answer, but I think digital twins are a big, a big piece. And then that extending to more people, people will shortcut it and say, oh, I’ve already got a digital twin.
But I think once you have some proper digital representation of the network and people, more people get access to that information, I think it’s going to be a game changer. And I think really, if they can then push that to people outside
Antoine Walter: the organization
Luke Butler: first to consultants, and then maybe even customers, that will be a big thing.
Antoine Walter: that ever happens. Let me push a bit further on that digital twin, because I like to get to the, to, to the bottom of that, you mentioned that the digital twin can be, you know, this online puppets where you’re playing with. And once you’re very happy about what he does, you just copy it and you do the same in the real life, or it can be something which is quite on itself doing some tests.
And then coming back to you and giving you an advice, Steve, not actuating, but doing, giving you an advice or finally the last level would be, it comes back and it’s implemented. Yeah. You just get to see that it works better. Do you think we’ll get to that level of automation? Will we allow it? Yeah.
Engineering reach what are industry? Um,
Luke Butler: in my lifetime, I don’t know. I really hope so. It would be amazing. I’d like to at least see it in a small scale, maybe some small systems. I’m sure there are small systems while there are small systems that run themselves. So why not bridge that gap with a digital twin?
I think we’ll start to see more and more. Interesting city is doing it. I know one of actual visors of neon in Saudi Arabia where that developing a whole new city from scratch and like they have to have sensors everywhere. It will happen eventually if I’m retired or not. Is that maybe another question if it’s mainstream, but it will eventually be.
Antoine Walter: So I have a broad question for you. If you were a word political leader, what would be your first action to influence the fate of the words? Water challenges?
Luke Butler: Yeah, I know this is going to be much more a developed world solution. So I apologize for not being maybe worldly enough, but I think more openness and data is, is a big piece.
I think that, you know, some utilities in north America, uh, legislated to provide, you know, open information and it gives more transparency to how. Yeah. Th th then it will work. So you can go to a web portal, see their entire GI system, the networks, but I would love to see that extent. More information. So like why couldn’t someone who lives in a city, know what the level and the tower is, the pumps are, or how much, you know, the real-time pricing.
Like I think that opens up transparency. Like there’s very little benefit at the moment for it. Utilities do that. Maybe they’ll they’ll find issues, but I think it would help both the creative, public and private side to, to find better solutions. If there was more openness and data. No. You know, static, GIS information, but raw information that people consume it.
And, you know, it could drive a huge amount of innovation that I would definitely push for more openness, just in pure data.
Antoine Walter: I’m surely not the right person to tell you if it’s a first world problem, or if it’s a worldwide problem. What it can tell you is that I was discussing that with David Lloyd Owen on the microphone in his global water funding book.
He explains how. He’s trying to make sense of the stats, numbers and data gets a bit from everywhere that that’s the number of open data is, is surprisingly low. Even more in developed country. For instance, it’s almost impossible to get a data out of European utilities just because, oh, they’re good. Come on.
It’s their business. And that’s, I think it’s an, it’s a negative way to look at it because you could reuse so much best practices from one place to another. You could leverage so much more if we were to understand everything. So I, I fully subscribe to. Cool for open data, which somehow was our red thread today.
Luke Butler: probably a, the obvious choice for me to go down, but it is what I live and breathe. Well,
Antoine Walter: the last question, what do you have someone to recommend me to invite on that microphone? As soon as.
Luke Butler: Yeah. So this is more of that team. I was talking about where as a young engineer, it was run by a guy named Andrew Foster night.
Uh, so he, he was the, uh, SCADA sort of manager, digital sort of manager that he’s now worked his way up to the general manager. I think of digital utility. It’s been a long time since I’ve talked to him. So maybe he won’t like me for throwing him out there, but Southeast water that the utility I worked for when I was in Australia doing some really.
Interesting stuff around digital, like they changed, uh, they, it was all treatment plants that made into a development and they’re putting all this digital technology and they’ve developed their own hardware, like smart meters and they’re putting in, and he’s the one really leading the charge that so like, even from a technical point, but even the cultural, how he ran that department was amazing.
He was, you know, you know, in a utility, it’s usually all the old guys running the thing, but he was in his thirties when he became a manager. Very young. I think it would be a very interesting person to chat to if you ever had the chance to get them timezone would be a killer, but it would be a worthy interview.
Antoine Walter: I just had, um, Mina Guli and Scott Hamilton from, from Australia. It’s, it’s hard to find a common spots, but we can find it. So thanks for the advice. Look, if people want to follow up with you, what’s the best place to reach you?
Luke Butler: Probably the best channel is, is LinkedIn. Uh, if you go to LinkedIn, you’ll find Luke Butler and then look up KTM.
Uh, maybe you’ll share it in the notes. Um, I try to, that’s usually where I talk most publicly. It’s probably the social media channel where you’ll find the most water professionals. I don’t really do Twitter too. Macho YouTube, but yeah, I would say. And that’s probably the easiest way to reach out to me.
Otherwise you want to find things about me, it’s probably, you know, or what we’re doing in KTM is obviously the Kadian website. And I think even if you go to my LinkedIn profile linked to all my GoodHub and some contacts you can get to me and you can see some of the articles I’ve written on openness, it’s probably as best place.
Antoine Walter: Perfect. Well, look, it was, it was a pleasure. Thanks for your openness. See what I did here. And, uh, yeah, it’d be that’s you to follow on because your rights in advice might be the first unicorn, but it’s there just at the bar. Let’s set. Let’s see. Hey, if you can break that bar of the 1 billion,
Luke Butler: let’s see how long it takes. I think it’s just a matter of time!