Why smart water infrastructure is the backbone of smart cities

Utilities 18 Jul 2022 by Dan Thomas

Smart cities are often hailed as an approach for overcoming the problems of today. Whether it be public transport, energy or tackling problems such as climate change, smart technology and interconnectedness need to be at the heart of our solutions.

The water industry is no exception. As populations grow, our water resources become even more valuable as demand increases. On top of that, the water industry faces ageing infrastructure and sustainability issues. 

Smart water cities

The industry is looking towards smart water cities. According to a smart cities services manager at Nexus Integra, Salvador Herrando, the quality and performance of water supply as well as all the distribution stages can be improved with the right digital strategy. 

In a smart water article Herrando explained how we understand energy and water challenges,

“The first step is to have information on the infrastructure, including both static data and dynamic data,” he said. “Digital transformation is not an end in itself. The benefits it brings about are clear, but above all, it builds the basis for implementing fast coming technological solutions.”

To address the questions relating to smart cities, Smart Cities World published a report and hosted a webinar. Panellists and researchers aimed to answer: what makes a city smart?

In short, the main objective of a smart city is to optimise city functions and promote healthy economic growth whilst improving quality of life by utilising smart technologies and data analysis. Connectivity and data are key components needed to innovate around some of the challenges we face, including energy and environmental issues along with mobility.

Paul Green, IOTICS co-inventor champions the importance of cooperation and an approach that recognises the diversity of cities,

“Cities are creative, vibrant places and I want all of the data in a city or space to be part of that creative melting pot, not stuck in a bunch of silos for people to control,” he said. 

Where to start

A recent article from Hitachi argues that making water smart is a must before looking at the bigger picture of smart cities, but where do we start?

“In order to make this first step towards smart water, ageing water infrastructures, some of which have been in place for over a hundred years, need to be updated and upgraded with IoT technologies, allowing them to come online and communicate with other parts of the system and city,” the article states.

Similarly to smart energy systems, smart water systems use IoT sensors to collect real-time data. This enables water operators to detect leaks, water quality issues including pH, dissolved oxygen and turbidity in the network, or monitor how water is being distributed across the network. It allows them to have actionable insights, make more informed decisions about water management and optimise water facilities.

The end user

The end user should be the focal point of developing smart places and fulfilling the brief of improving quality of life. What it comes down to in the case of the water industry is smart metres that deliver value to people. 

Customers need to know their water consumption which will help reduce waste and cost. As well as conservation tips, customers can learn how to look out for leaks. 

It’s real and it’s happening now. Cities like Singapore are already investing in smart utility infrastructure and companies are starting to work towards solving the challenges such as water sustainability. Working towards smart places is no longer optional. It’s essential for the survival of all utility companies. Contact us to find out how IOTICS can enable you to flourish. 

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