How small consultancies like Climate Adaptive Systems use Autodesk Water Infrastructure software

Trevor English Trevor English June 19, 2024

4 min read

At Autodesk, we get to interact with a diverse set of people throughout the water industry. From the world’s largest consulting firms all the way down to small businesses run by solo practitioners. While massive infrastructure projects often get the glamorous headlines, it’s important to remember that a large subset of the engineering field is made up of individual engineers and small consultants who deliver innovative solutions where they’re needed.

We always want to know: How are these smaller consultancies using our software? We sat down with Mira Chokshi, P.E., founder of Climate Adaptive Systems, an engineering consulting firm for hydraulic and hydrologic modeling capital planning with a sustainable bent, to talk about how she leverages Autodesk’s Water Infrastructure solutions.

Mira is a licensed civil engineer with 20 years of experience in infrastructure planning, design and operations for the water and wastewater sector in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has consulted with multiple agencies including San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, City of Sacramento, City of San Jose, Seattle Public Utilities and others to develop their hydrologic and hydraulic models and utilize the models for capital planning and design. She is also a climate policy fellow with the respected Aspen Institute.

In 2023, she started her own consulting practice that seeks to make capital planning adaptive to climate change drivers. The goal is to integrate adaptation and mitigation as part of the capital planning process with a data-driven and collaborative approach to problem solving. We sat down with her to talk about how she uses Autodesk software to leverage data analytics and visualization tools to solve various customer challenges.

How do you use Autodesk’s water infrastructure tools?

“I have used InfoWorks ICM for multiple sanitary and drainage systems for their capital master planning process and identifying improvement projects. I recently converted InfoWater model to InfoWorks WS Pro for a water distribution system and really like the tools provided for the seamless conversion between modeling software.”

Over the last 20 years, how has your work in this space changed?

“Technologically, it’s a complete game changer. With super computers, cloud computing and GPU technology, the ability to do advanced numerical modeling, graphing, or rendering 3D maps quickly with limited resources has and will continue to be a big game changer. Structurally, public access to weather and climate data and forecast models is a huge change that has changed my work in the last 20 years.”

What stands out to you in your work with our hydraulic modeling tools?

“Several things, like the user interfaces, simulation accuracy, and two-dimensional modeling capabilities. With regards to the user interface, InfoWorks products [InfoWorks ICM and InfoWorks WS Pro] have an accessible user interface and organization of features and functionality that makes it very intuitive to use without a lot of training. They have continued to maintain their competitive edge in the modeling software by keeping up with the latest technologies in cloud, subscription, and computation, and taking feedback from frequent users like me for future product updates makes the software product more accessible and adaptable for my current and future needs.

The ability to view model simulation results in a graphical format including plan and profile views, and able to step through results has been great in terms of communicating a specific hydraulic performance of the system to the stakeholders is incredibly helpful.

The flexibility that subscriptions provide me is huge. I recently bought the Flex subscription for using InfoWorks ICM, and I absolutely love the subscription model use for a small business like me and the use of cloud computing for setting up simulations.

Finally, on 2D modeling, the ability to simulate surface drainage for storm water systems has been incredible powerful to understand the flood risks from pluvial and fluvial systems during extreme precipitation events.”

What is missing from most capital planning projects?

“Many water, storm and sanitary sewer utilities are currently assessing the risks and vulnerabilities to their systems from climate change. I am hoping that the next step is integrating climate change as an early driver to the capital planning process to develop a long-term improvement plan and build an adaptive management strategy to get towards this long-term plan.”

How has cloud simulation impacted your modeling and what has it enabled you to do in your work?

“One of the inherent challenges of simulating a large network of pipes, nodes for long duration storms or using two-dimensional simulations requires a very high-end computer with significant storage and higher performance GPU cards. These computers are very expensive and need to be upgraded every 3-4 years to keep up with the improvements in software and underlying technology. The cloud simulation option allowed me to leverage the high-end GPU processors available on the cloud and reduced the overhead of storage management.”

Mira’s work has been incredibly impactful throughout the regions where she has worked, and highlights that you don’t need a huge team of modelers to leverage today’s tools efficiently and effectively. Learn more about Autodesk Water Infrastructure tools and how they are enabling digital transformation for the water industry.

Fill up on more of the One Water blog

Sign up for the One Water Blog newsletter, and we'll keep you updated about our top stories, along with the best content we find online. We only send out a newsletter when we have something interesting to share.