Five Things to Know About the Intersection of Water Networks and Smart Systems
For the new year, we compiled a list of five things one needs to know in 2011 about the intersection of IT, smart systems and Water:
- Instrumentation: The Planet, water networks included, inlcuding Victorian era pipes and Roman water-works, is being instrumented. Water networks, with their supervisory control and data acquisition systems, are set to make a huge technology leap into the smart system age. Contrary to many systems where instrumentation needs to reach a certain critical mass to make smart management possible, with water things are different – smart systems can be created just by applying analytical smarts to pre-existing data.
- Greater granularity: notwithstanding what was mentioned in point number 1, the direct result of implementing smart water approaches is more granualrity. Once smart water systems prove their value in making the water distribution system better, utilities will install more sensors at more measurement points so they can get more granularity in telling how well their water networks operate.
- From infrequent measurements to constant information: while some water networks still collect data infrequently, dishing up a post-facto report, newer systems, as a result of the actionable information offered by water infrastructure monitoring, are poised to become real-time. Real time control of the water network is not a nice thing to have; it is a must, as one of the goals of water infrastructure monitoring is to “prevent events from becoming catastrophic”. The best example, of course, is detecting a water leak before it becomes a burst, which affects the water supply, damages property and loses huge amounts of water.
- From reactivity to proactivity: when information is granular, meaningful and smart, actions undertaken according to the information cease to be reactions, such as fixing leaks, and can include preventative maintenance and better operational control that are planned to prevent problems, not react to them.
- From silos of information to a holistic view: smart water begins by looking into the core of the water distribution network, monitoring mains, district metered areas, pumps and reservoirs. But smart water systems do not stop there. They also interface into other systems, such as asset management, billing and consumer care, becoming the central nervous system for the water utility.