We live in the era of connected world and the development of smart cities is imperative to improve the quality of city-dwellers’ lives. For the longest time, we had associated the Internet of Things (IoT)technology specifically with smarter homes. (Think controlled lights, doors, smart traffic!) However, a lesser-known use of IoT technology is its applications across many fields associated with our day-to-day lives. One such area which has been untapped, and holds tremendous potential is water management systems in our homes.
The proper management of water as a resource has been a topic of much discussion considering our ongoing water crisis. India's water crisis is often attributed to lack of proper government planning, increased corporate privatization, industrialization, increasing population and human waste. In addition, water scarcity in our country is expected to worsen as the overall population is set to reach 1.6 billion by the year 2050. So the growing needs of our rising population greatly strain our natural water resources, apart from posing severe environmental challenges.
How exactly will the IoT technology help in optimizing our water reserve?
In smart water-management solutions, IoT is employed to facilitate the right passage of water to the right destination at the right duration. This simple data-driven shift is made possible by wireless IoT communication.
A smart city with a robust water management system employs high-end sensors fixed across reservoirs and overhead tanks. It is important to note that these sensors are specially designed to establish the level of water present in a tank. The established water data is then transported to a central server, resulting in effective water monitoring. This information is passed on to these central servers on a regular basis, thereby determining consistent water usage and indicating the level of water present in the tanks or reservoirs.
The sensor-based internet of things (IoT) device, by tracking real-time water flow will thereby optimize water as a resource and help reduce demand for water. Users can receive their water consumption pattern and data on their mobile phones directly. The software takes into account issues such as leakages, abnormal usages and open taps, to help people make real-time decisions and decrease their water consumption by making fundamental behavioural changes.
Current scenario of technology adoption in water management
Smart water management represents one of the most promising and underused IoT applications in smart city projects. However, in the last few years, there has been an advancement of various middleware platforms and IoT-based infrastructures. Many manufacturing companies have been adopting smart water management in their efforts to reduce their water wastage and use it efficiently. Smart cities projects too are not far behind in this journey considering they are likely to invest about $41 trillion on integrating IoT technologies among their different verticals in the next 20 years.
Most of the water utilities in our country are facing huge challenges as a consequence of increased urbanization, higher demand, increased prices, and ageing and dilapidated distribution networks. The NRW (Non-revenue water) level is quite high in Indian cities, which results in huge volumes of treated water being lost during transmission and distribution. Non-revenue water (NRW) is water that has been produced but does not generate revenue for utility and is “lost” before it reaches the customer. Losses can be real (through the pipe and network leaks, referred to as physical losses) or commercial (theft or metering inaccuracies, incorrect billing or illegal connections). This affects the financial health of water utilities through lost revenues and increased operational costs.
Smart water management is the future
India looks ahead to a great room of opportunities for developing water-efficient technologies that will renew the understanding of water as a shared commodity. Smart water management will provide a holistic approach to manage this priceless resource and the infrastructure system surrounding it.
An IoT based integrated water management solution, would be able to manage in real-time all the water-related assets in a property like tanker lorries, bore well, rainwater harvesting system, sewage treatment plant, chillers, irrigation, various storage units, and actual consumption at various points. This technology is designed to send out notifications for leakages, wasted water as well as raise alerts for metering inaccuracies and other sources of non-revenue water.
Such data-driven water management results in up to 35 per cent less consumption per building. This technology will also have a considerable impact on domestic water consumption, saving up to 50 per cent water as people begin to pay for water based on actual usage and will be able to remotely shut off leaking valves using these smart water meters. These IoT based smart water management solutions when implemented on a larger scale will help significantly reduce the demand for water and help the water regulation authorities reduce losses due to NRW and inadequately meeting the water needs in a city.
Many corporations, government agencies and residential establishments have already begun their water conservation journey by promoting several water management startups and other industries. By implementing the true potential of IoT, governments can improve services to its citizens, increase sustainability, and make the existing cities a better and more livable place for all its citizens. Smart water management, therefore, has the possibility to create a revolution in urban organization and development.