The IoT has made inroads into many aspects of our daily lives, and is now starting to make an impact in a resource many take for granted—our water supplies.
According to UN estimates, over 6.5 billion people are projected to live in cities by 2050—almost the entire world population today. That means the number of people living in urban communities will double over the next 33 years. This is expected to place additional strain on existing municipal resources, with water being the most utilized. With the majority of the world’s population living in or near communities undergoing rapid urbanization, water is poised to become one of the biggest expenses for cities in the coming years, which will directly impact each community’s economy.
In this innovative day and age, the Internet of Things (IoT) is offering new solutions for improving water management to maximize efficient use. Comprehensive strategies utilizing the IoT are capable of reducing water costs up to 20 percent. One of the reasons is how cheap IoT sensors are becoming with new battery-powered networking solutions (like LORA). Lower prices on tech solutions enable utilities to “lighten up” larger portions of their networks, improve customer experience, and reduce operational and maintenance costs.
Installing a network of smart IoT-enabled sensors can significantly improve efficiency of any water distribution network. The main ways an IoT-based water management system can improve the performance of current platforms range from better water leak detection, quality, and safety monitoring, to quality control on water reserves, consumption transparency, and prescriptive maintenance on infrastructure.
Smart water networks can also reduce what’s described as “non-revenue water”—the amount of supply water that’s physically lost while passing through the system due to flaws like leakages. According to a World Bank study, around 32 billion cubic meters of water are lost annually from such issues, which can often be attributed to poor or aging infrastructure. Advanced sensing technologies can use analytical techniques that measure water usage within closed geographic areas, providing utilities with real-time visibility on any leaks or breaches that may occur.
One facet of water management that accounts for a lot of lost or misused water annually is urban handling of wastewater. Smart networks can improve wastewater management to connect infrastructure with control and monitoring systems like the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) platform. The combination of sewer and sanitary sewer overflow occur whenever these systems fill past capacity, and are forced to spill contaminated content from their designated overflow sites.
The consequences of these happenings can significantly impact resource supplies of nearby residents and local ecosystems. An increase in real-time monitoring capabilities has led to quicker reactions in changing conditions to initiate remedial mechanisms like manipulating gates, valves, or activating ancillary treatment sites. Fewer overflows also prolong equipment lifetimes throughout wastewater networks, preventing them from springing leaks and developing other faulty conditions due to aging.