With a world population of 7 Billion, water scarcity is not a myth anymore. If the 20th century saw international conflicts over petroleum, the 21st century may witness wars over life’s vital resource, water!
The countries across the world are defining and redefining “smart cities”, but, no city can be truly smart without Smart Water Infrastructure.
We have been associating the Internet of Things technology specifically with smart homes, smart cities and traffic management systems, but, no city can be truly smart without Smart Water Infrastructure. A lesser- known fact about the Internet of Things technology is that it is also applicable across many other fields associated with our day- to- day life. One such area which can get highly influenced by the Internet of Things technology is water management.
Starting from figuring out the right amount of water that must be present in the reservoirs and overhead tanks during any particular point of time, IoT will also offer assistance in determining the cost of fabricating and erecting pump houses. There are layers of infrastructure and technologies like automation & control devices, sensor technologies, data analytics software that make water management system truly “smart”. IoT technologies can provide both hardware and software support for an automated and data-driven decision support system towards an efficient, good quality, leakage free smart water grid. Listed below are some of the suggested applications where IoT can play a crucial role in smart water management:
Smart Water Metering: Smart water meters are a form of IoT, a network of technologies which can monitor the status of physical objects, capture meaningful data, and communicate that data over a wireless network to a computer in the cloud for software to analyze in real time and help determine action steps. A network of smart meters that collect granular real-time data across the water grid could help identify leakages, discover hidden patterns in water consumption, use predictive analytics to regulate demand and supply and set up alarms for notifying anomalies.
Detecting leakages in the Water Pipelines: Measuring water pressure in the pipes in real time over an IoT network can help save millions of gallons of water. Smart Meter networks in integration with GIS and GPS, weather information systems and cloud servers can help not only detect leakages fast but also, issue repair orders instantly to the local field engineers.
Tank Level Monitoring: Overflowing tanks, a common sight, lead to significant water wastages. Simple devices like LED light sensors fixed at three levels, say, lower, middle and highest levels in a water tank can help fill tanks as and when required rather than filling at preset schedules, thus, avoiding empty or overflowing tanks. These sensors would send signals to the water pump depending on "full" or "empty" status of the tanks, based on which the pumps would automatically turn off and on, eliminating both manual intervention and the need for pre-scheduled settings. This would not only help conserve water but also power needed to operate the pumps.
Water Quality Monitoring: Contaminated water is perhaps worse than inadequate water supply, causing poor health and low productivity among individuals and societies. The three essential parameters for water quality, namely, the pH, temperature, and turbidity can be easily measured using pH sensors, temperature sensors and turbidity sensors placed across the water network including the pipelines and storage and distribution tanks. Access to this data in real time and acting upon it immediately is what would make all the difference in damage control and in handling the situation satisfactorily.
While the applications listed above reveal the efficacy and suitability of the IoT applications for a smart water grid, there are certain challenges that all IoT applications must consider while designing these systems.
- The application must ensure interoperability with other applications like the Geographical Information System, weather forecast etc.
- The system architecture must be a flexible one that allows integration with other systems.
- The application must support legacy systems, since replacing the legacy systems may not be a feasible option.