May 16, 2019
The data: New wealth. Utilities also follow this "new interconnected economy" rule, as they meet an important challenge for their future: introducing water cycle monitoring and control systems.
Water used to be seen as a low-cost unlimited resource. Climate change, demographic growth and the increasingly evermore intensive use of water overturned this belief: today, water is a scarce resource to be carefully safeguarded.
Utilities, in all this, play a central role: they manage the network infrastructure supplying water to families and companies. And, it is actually in this cycle that inefficiencies, waste and usage gaps can easily hide. By using the new IoT (Internet of Things) and AI (Artificial Intelligence) technologies this can be all foreseen and eliminated beforehand, predictively.
Dynamic interconnected monitoring systems can, in fact, process a huge amount of data from all network points. They can easily monitor the main KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), live-assessing any eventual variations, so as to prevent possible accidents. A really huge difference, compared to the past: utilities used to, in fact, intervene when they received a phone call informing of a failure, with relevant leakages causing water to be wasted into the environment.
And not just that: The new monitoring systems also allow to balance water supply and transmission activities according to day-night time and seasonal periods, therefore allowing water usage to be calibrated according to actual use.
An interesting example of this new way of managing water by utilities can be clearly seen in the Thames Water case, a utility that almost manages London's total amount of water. The company calls itself “water smart” and has managed to completely automate its entire network system. This allows for a daily 34 million litres of saved water (*), including water dispersion caused by failures and accidents, and water reduction. The latter, resulting from a smarter use of water by consumers, through smart metering systems, also allowing greater integration with discharging procedures.
This integrated amount of data means so much more, as it makes it possible to re-think the entire water utility business arena. From mere passive network managers, they have now become smart companies, capable of re-thinking the entire production cycle, by using an innovative and sustainable approach:
- water is not just a commodity anymore, and it must be supplied and distributed while taking care to always safeguard the environment,
- consumers must pay for water in a flexible way, not merely based on use
- water must not be dispersed after being used, but re-used (i.e. industrial usage)
- the infrastructure is an asset that must be made available to communities in a transparent manner.
Real and concrete solutions for a world increasingly aware that water is not an unlimited resource that can be wasted anymore.