Drones, Remote Working and Digital Twins: Water Innovation in a Time of COVID-19 feat. Rohan Koenig

Show Summary

COVID-19 has accelerated innovation in the water industry and one innovation that is attracting increased attention from utilities is remote assessment technology.

In this episode, AquaLAB’s Cara McCullough talks to Rohan Koenig, Immersive Digital Solutions Lead at GHD Digital about drones, thermal imaging, worker safety, digital twins and more. Rohan dives deep into how Pandemic life has accelerated the uptake of this technology and how it can be applied in the water industry.

Meet this week’s expert

Rohan Koenig

Immersive Digital Solutions Lead

GHD Digital


With the benefit of over 20 years of experience working within science and engineering combined with management experience, Rohan’s expertise is in the understanding and development of business opportunities, team leadership and external relationships to achieve success.

Connect with Rohan on LinkedIn


Show Highlights

  • It’s the time to get to site and the inspection and then the safety aspects of it as well. You’ve got people hanging over, working from heights. We brought that back to the water industry using the imagery to produce photogrammetry models, but setting it up specifically, so it’s not just a 3D model.
  • The photographs are all integrated and linked to individual spots. So it complies with the material technology requirements, whether it’s a tank or an overall site, pipeline, etc. It’s allowing the materials technology guys to still do their job, but they can do it remotely.
  • That opened it up to us and the clients as well for savings and the ability to get more information faster so it can capture more sites. And a couple of the big pluses is like the reduced safety risk for the client organization.
  • We capture the entirety of the asset as opposed to a traditional inspection only captures where the defect is…which means if something pops up in year two, we can go back to year one and have a look. What did it look like then? Did we miss something or did they show up on thermals in year one?
  • To continue doing what they’re doing they have to manage their assets but they physically can’t give the subject matter experts like together to side to actually do what’s required to be done. So how do you do that? You need to take a digital approach.
  • [COVID-19 is] forcing a change…We’re not looking at trialing stuff on clients. We’re applying existing technology. It is there.
  • So from COVID-19, it means we can use either local or client-based resources…It means we can use a local drone pilot…which means that people don’t have to travel outside their area. It’s providing jobs locally.
  • If you’ve got an actual 3D model of the site which we’ve done [for dams] so you can walk around, fly around, take a section…you’ve got a clear understanding when you’re all sharing that image of exactly what you’re talking about, where you’re talking about, etc. more so than what you get in any other format.
  • Engineers seem to be a finite resource these days, so making better use of our more experienced people …It means that if they are losing 20 percent of their time in travel and 20 percent of time they can spend doing homework and processing more information.


About Future Water

Hear from water innovation and digital transformation leaders from across the globe and discover the technology and innovations that are shaping the digital future of water. Proudly hosted by AquaLAB, powered by GHD Digital.



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AquaLAB is GHD’s global water innovation and knowledge hub. We inspire water industry leaders to explore novel ideas, openly discuss challenges, and experiment with technology to safeguard the world’s most precious resource for future generations.

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