What Is The Difference (Between Water Industry Words/Phrases)?

Apr 25, 2023

We hear some water industry phrases and it’s become clear to us that there is a need to make it clear that, while some things are similar in the underlying value they serve or problem they serve, there is some difference to how they should be viewed. For example, SCADA and IoT are not the same. Below are a few more of these similar but different phrases that we continue to hear as innovation comes into the water industry.

  1. SCADA and IoT: SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) is a system for monitoring and controlling industrial processes. IoT (Internet of Things) refers to the interconnection of everyday objects via the internet, enabling them to collect and exchange data. Both involve data collection and communication, but SCADA is focused on industrial control, while IoT covers a broader range of applications.
  2. Real-time and historic/static: Real-time data is information that is collected, processed, and used immediately. Historic (or static) data is information that has been collected in the past and is not changing. The main difference is the immediacy of use and the potential for change.
  3. Engineering consultant and software product vendor: An engineering consultant provides expert advice and services in a specific field of engineering. A software product vendor develops, sells, and supports software products. The former offers expertise, while the latter offers a tangible product.
  4. On-premise solution vs cloud-based solution: An on-premise solution is a software or system installed and run on the user’s own hardware and infrastructure. A cloud-based solution is hosted on remote servers and accessed via the internet. The main difference is the location of the infrastructure and the way it is accessed.
  5. Insight and Analysis: Insight is the understanding or revelation gained from analyzing data or information. Analysis is the process of examining data or information to draw conclusions or make predictions. Insight is the outcome, while analysis is the method.
  6. Historic data and Real-time data: Historic data is information collected in the past and is not changing. Real-time data is information that is collected, processed, and used immediately. The main difference is the immediacy of use and the potential for change.
  7. Filtration and Reverse Osmosis: Filtration is the process of separating particles from a fluid by passing it through a porous medium. Reverse osmosis is a filtration process that uses a semi-permeable membrane to separate ions, molecules, and larger particles from a solution. Both involve separation, but reverse osmosis is more selective and capable of removing smaller particles.
  8. Analog Data and Digital Twin: Analog data is information represented by continuous variables, such as voltage or temperature. A digital twin is a virtual representation of a physical object or system, often used for simulation or analysis. The former is a type of data, while the latter is a model or simulation.
  9. Predictive Asset Management vs Reactive Asset Management: Predictive asset management uses data, models, and analysis to predict equipment failures and schedule maintenance proactively. Reactive asset management is a maintenance approach that addresses issues as they arise. The main difference is the level of proactivity and the use of predictive techniques.
  10. Risk Management and Resilience Building: Risk management involves identifying, assessing, and mitigating risks to minimize their impact on an organization. Resilience building focuses on strengthening an organization’s ability to recover from and adapt to adverse events. Both are concerned with managing uncertainty, but resilience building emphasizes recovery and adaptability.
  11. One Water and Water Recycling: One Water is an integrated approach to managing water resources, considering all water sources and their interconnectedness. Water recycling is the process of treating and reusing wastewater for non-potable purposes. One Water is a broader concept that includes water recycling as one aspect.
  12. Water Reuse and Water Conservation: Water reuse is the process of treating and reusing wastewater for non-potable purposes. Water conservation refers to the practice of using water efficiently to reduce waste and preserve resources. Both involve sustainable water management, but water reuse focuses on repurposing wastewater, while water conservation emphasizes efficient use.
  13. Water Operations and Risk Management: Water operations involve the daily management and maintenance of water systems, including treatment, distribution, and monitoring. Risk management involves identifying, assessing, and mitigating risks related to water operations to minimize their impact on the organization. Both are concerned with managing water systems, but water operations focus on daily tasks, while risk management addresses potential threats and uncertainties.
  14. Flat-Pricing and Dynamic Pricing: Flat-pricing is a pricing model where customers pay a fixed amount for a product or service, regardless of usage or demand. Dynamic pricing adjusts prices based on factors such as supply, demand, and time. The main difference is the flexibility and responsiveness of the pricing structure.
  15. Residential customer and corporate customer: Residential customers are individuals or households that purchase products or services for personal use. Corporate customers are businesses or organizations that purchase products or services for their operations. The primary difference is the type of entity and purpose of the purchase.
  16. Retail water customer and wholesale water customer: Retail water customers are end users who purchase water directly from a utility for personal or business use. Wholesale water customers are entities that buy water in bulk from a utility and resell it to other customers. The main difference is the scale of purchase and the intended use of the water.
  17. Map and GIS: A map is a visual representation of an area, typically showing geographical features and spatial relationships. GIS (Geographic Information System) is a computer system used for capturing, storing, analyzing, and displaying spatial data. A map is a static representation, while GIS is an interactive tool that enables manipulation and analysis of spatial data.
  18. Investor Owned Utility and Municipal Utility: Investor Owned Utilities (IOUs) are privately-owned, for-profit companies that provide public utilities, such as water, electricity, or natural gas. Municipal Utilities are government-owned utilities operated by local governments. The primary difference is the ownership structure and profit motive.
  19. Water System and Water Distribution System: A water system encompasses all components involved in sourcing, treating, and distributing water to end users. A water distribution system is a specific part of the water system that focuses on the delivery of treated water to end users. The water distribution system is a subset of the overall water system.
  20. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the development of computer systems that can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence, such as problem-solving or pattern recognition. Machine Learning (ML) is a subset of AI that involves the development of algorithms that enable computers to learn and improve from experience. ML is a specific approach within the broader field of AI.
  21. Environmental Justice and Water Equity: Environmental Justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people, regardless of race or income, in the development and enforcement of environmental laws and policies. Water Equity is the fair distribution of water resources and services, ensuring all communities have access to clean, safe, and affordable water. Both concepts focus on fairness and inclusivity, with water equity being a specific aspect of environmental justice.
  22. ‘Business as usual’ operations vs climate change responsive operations: ‘Business as usual’ operations refers to the continuation of current practices and processes without significant changes. Climate change responsive operations involve adapting and modifying practices to address and mitigate the impacts of climate change. The main difference is the level of adaptation and responsiveness to climate change.
  23. Disruptive innovation and sustaining innovation: Disruptive innovation refers to a new product, service, or technology that significantly changes an existing market or industry, often displacing established competitors. Sustaining innovation refers to incremental improvements or advancements within an existing market or product. The main difference is the degree of change and impact on the existing market or industry.

Are there any other similar but different phrases that you hear as you work in this industry? Reach out to let us know.