Global design and consulting company Stantec Inc. has added four of its software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms to Microsoft’s Azure Marketplace, offering its expertise in flood management and prediction and sustainable finance.
The four software platforms are the Financial Analysis and Management System (FAMS), Flood Management, Flood Predictor and Stantec’s Connect Platform. They were created by Stantec’s Innovation Office, established in 2020.
"Those that are using their services are creating applications using Azure and using cloud services. They're looking at, how do we pull them into that marketplace? How do we expand their sales channels?" said Jonathan Fitzpatrick, Stantec’s director of insight analytics. "There was a third party consultant that was brought in, who looked at some of the go-to-market strategies, the business cases (and) the applications that we were looking to build.
“I think what is interesting about Azure and Microsoft, it's a powerful platform. But it ultimately needs subject matter experts like Stantec, in order to create those solutions (and) to create those applications that are solving real world problems.”
Headquartered in Edmonton, Stantec (STN-T) employs 26,000 people in over 400 locations around the world.
Stantec’s SaaS platforms
Flood Manager helps users understand potential flood risk by processing a variety of flood models with automated analysis, data post-processing and reporting in the cloud. Flood Predictor boasts of being able to analyze flood hazards, project future climate scenarios, incorporate local adaptation and validate data against government records in near-real time.
According to Fitzpatrick, the Flood Predictor allows for answers in seconds rather than hours. Both flood platforms can be used by clients for one-off projects or an entire state can use it to model flood risk.
“Stantec is one of the foremost wastewater environmental engineers in the world. We're a top-10 global design company. We've been doing and providing flood consulting for jurisdictions for decades,” Fitzpatrick said.
“We do a lot of work in the U.S., providing those services in Canada, looking at the impact of catastrophes, river flooding events, coastal events, that sort of thing. So it was already in our wheelhouse to provide this type of knowledge.”
Talks with Microsoft began in January of 2022. The Flood Manager platform had been launched in 2021, while Predictor was launched in August.
FAMS, which was launched in October, is a financial modelling and planning application that allows users to quickly create sustainable financial plans designed for small to mid-sized municipalities and utilities.
The Connect platform offers a variety of services, including cloud-scale parallel computing, machine learning and analytics, visualization and IoT connectivity.
“Think of Connect as the building blocks of these applications,” he said. “So Connect itself is a set of pre-tested and connected cloud infrastructure modules. If you want to go and deploy an application, you can deploy it onto that Connect infrastructure.”
Costs for the platforms will vary based on the size of the client and the computing scale they might need – Fitzpatrick compared the computing needs of a small municipality to a New York-sized city.
Whatever the price, it includes access to Stantec’s flesh-and-blood subject matter experts.
“When you're in Flood Manager (and) Flood Predictor, you can get access to a lot of the tremendous flooding engineering experience that we have with water resources,” he said. “Same thing with FAMS. We're one of the foremost financial experts for utilities (and) municipalities, when you get access to FAMS, you also potentially get access to that resource pool as well.
“And if you also need to be able to talk to a foremost expert in water systems or drainage areas, hey, we got that person too.”
Stantec and Azure
Fitzpatrick spoke about deepening Stantec’s relationship with Microsoft and referred to “a few” applications in beta mode, currently being tested with clients before launching on the marketplace.
“We're constantly iterating (and) looking at what’s the next event or what's the next thing that we need to be able to predict,” Fitzpatrick said. “We have a whole host of analytics that we're looking at around other types of natural disasters, whether it's landslides or asset operation like dams.”
Next to launch on the marketplace from Stantec will be an AI-based, automated platform known as Stantec Altitude, which will include a dam insight module. That is slated for Q1 or Q2 this year.
Fitzpatrick said an update to FAMS is coming later this year as well.
Part of the deepening relationship between the two companies involves instructing Microsoft’s sales team on the platforms' capabilities.
“There's some additional things that we're working on in order to educate the Microsoft sales staff so that they can go take it to municipalities, utilities and people that can really take advantage of these services.”