How the water industry is going digital to boost efficiency
A majority of both our planet and our bodies are made up of water, so the relevance of the water industry should come as no surprise. Digital water is a concept that people are becoming more familiar with as a potential solution to several pressing environmental issues, especially as we begin this new decade. Water utilities are beginning to take advantage of the available online software applications and other digital technologies that can be tailored to help the global water industry learn more from the data collected and lead to relevant infrastructure and conservation solutions.
What are digital water technologies?
Using a PI System to detect water leaks is one of the ways to implement digital water for water utilities. A PI system is a set of programs and software products designed to collect, analyze, visualize and deliver data from different sources. It is an infrastructure perfect for managing real-time data and events.
What are the problems currently facing the water industry?
Water scarcity is a worldwide problem that digitally enhanced water-supply networks can significantly improve. Population growth and drastic climate change are just two of the biggest factors in the steadily rising demand for water. As you may know, the water industry affects a lot more than indoor plumbing and your store’s selection of bottled waters. Most industries heavily rely on water, namely the grain, meat, and clothing industries, all of which post fairly high “water costs” that will only continue to increase.” It’s also counterproductive to have water usage increasing while also wasting the water we do have access to. The World Bank estimates that global utilities lose about 25 to 35 percent of their water as a result of leakage and breaks.
What problems can digital water systems address?
Implementing digital water technologies on a large scale can significantly improve how the water and sanitation industry is able to address the challenges they face year after year. Issues like aging materials, leaks and other unexpected anomalies that cause water loss. Not only can they help improve the quality of the water, but by promoting water conservation and efficiency, the companies stand to make more money while offering superior service and reliability to their customers
Are there digital water options for the average homeowner?
There are several plumbing options for smart home water security systems that can help protect a home from water damage and leaks and be remotely controlled, 24/7. Smart water–management systems accomplish these goals by increasing network visibility, facilitating predictive maintenance, and ensuring faster response times for events such as leaks, bursts, operational failures, quality incidents, and changes in water pressure.
Where has digital water made an impact already?
Many cities around the world have made significant strides in digitizing many areas of infrastructure such as the transport and energy sectors. What ends up last on the list is integrating these smart city systems to their water utility strategy. In many cases, the available technologies have already begun to transform water management and will only continue to improve in scope and functionality.
Examples of successful implementation and integration
- Israel: Israel used to be one of the world’s most water-stressed countries, but as a direct result of technology-enabled water management, it is now actually selling water to its neighbors.
- South Africa: South Africa has been facing severe water shortage issues for some time and cities are losing up to 36% of their water as a result of pipe leaks and theft. A water utility in Durban, South Africa is using digital water technology to help manage its resources. They paired hydrologic models with monitoring systems to optimize the storage levels in the dams and reservoirs.
- Australia: In Australia, both water and sewage utilities have been making efforts to integrate a smart water grid since 2013 to improve visibility, conserve water, and save on energy. Most utilities are on board with adopting more digital interfaces like smart water metering, water quality sensors, and pressure gauges to continually transmit data to a central service. Needless to say, a digital transformation in the water and wastewater sector is underway.
The opportunity for digital water technologies is especially relevant for utilities in cities with emerging economies as it can help them develop off-grid and localized water systems. Interdisciplinary collaboration is a must since water industry professionals lack the technological skills and technology experts can rarely understand the complexities of waterway networks. Cost is also one of the biggest barriers because many utilities rely on limited funding as they are part of the public sector. However, 50% of US government organizations are already using online solutions and in the long run, many companies were able to reduce the need for overtime by 58% simply by using a PI system. This all came because they were able to forecast potential issues and being able to process analytics in real-time using the cloud.
The water industry especially is well known for its reluctance to implement operational changes. As applicable technologies will only continue to improve the concept of digital water should become less and less of a mystery to the water utility industry. More often than not, issues are only addressed after a crisis hits. Ideally, these new technologies will continue to guide water strategy into the foreseeable future and will not only help utility services and entire countries better manage the demand for clean water, and act more proactively when it comes to water conservation.