By guest author Dr Charlotte Coles, IDTechEx Technology Analyst.
She has recently published the below article exploring how digital water will improve in the water and wastewater industries. This article follows the release of the new IDTechEx report, “”Digital Water Networks 2020-2030“
A digital, or “smart”, water network is a water network which has additional capabilities, sensors, IoT devices, which allow the user to maintain and run a network more efficiently and effectively.
Such a water network enables water utilities to:
• Remotely monitor and identify problems, so that they can pre-emptively prioritize and identify maintenance issues. They can then remotely control all aspects of the water distribution network using data insights.
• The customer can be provided with information and tools so that they can make informed choices about their behaviour patterns.
• Transparently and confidentially comply with regulations and policies on water quality and conservation.
The image below shows the different aspects of the value chain which digital water can influence. Firstly, there is the utilities industry. In distribution, monitoring the network and distribution pipes can simplify the management of the system. For example, data provided by smart water meters can provide real-time consumption patterns. Furthermore, water demand response can be quicker and thus help with pressure regulation in the network. Poor water quality can have an impact on health. Sensors can measure a wide range of chemicals and pollution in real-time. This means water quality can be tracked throughout the whole water network. Finally, with the new data insights with smart networks, utilities can communicate with customers and engage with them in new ways.
Data insights also mean that consumers have more control over their water usage – with more detailed bills and up to date readings, they are able to contact the utilities company if they notice an increase in water, which could indicate a leak. This would identify leaks quicker for the utilities company.
In order to provide these services, water utilities companies need to ensure that they can still be flexible in their approaches to future water networks and sensors as insights from current usage and data become more widespread across the industry. Communications technology and data analytics are now at a point where the water industry’s needs can be met.
“Digital Water Networks 2020-2030” provides an insight into the variety of opportunities which sensors can provide management and maintenance data for providers. Most countries water networks are built of a variety of parts. There are the larger pipes which create the main network, and there are smaller distribution pipes, with larger pipes requiring different measurement mechanisms to smaller pipes. Different areas can have different pipe materials, and this can limit the techniques for measurement. Wastewater pipes typically are not always completely full and have solids which negate the use of mechanical mechanisms inside the pipe. Therefore, it is important to have a wide choice of sensors to market which can be used. Greater competition provides greater innovation and will help grow the digital water industry.
The IDTechEx report, “Digital Water Networks 2020-2030“, gives comprehensive information on various processes, sensors, in systems offered by the top players in the water and wastewater treatment markets. The holistic overview includes industry analysis, a detailed summary of how each of the sensor groups can impact specific aspects of both the water and wastewater industries, and where the opportunities and hype will take this exciting technology in the coming decade.