Water networks need to get smart, says report

Monday, 18 January, 2021

Water networks need to get smart, says report

Smart water networks are at the forefront of smart city and IoT technology, with the sector set to boom in the coming years. A report released by IDTechEx predicts that, in the water pipe network alone, the industry of sensors will grow to over $3.5 billion by 2030.

The report — Sensors in the Water and Wastewater Treatment Industries 2020–2030 — points to the need to create a smart water network, but iterates that this will only happen with investment.

IDTechEx research predicts there will be a change in regulation in 5–10 years. This change will push for smarter sensor-based networks. The benefits of these systems will pay off any investment, providing a more efficient, safe and monitored network.

As an emerging technology, digitising and adding sensors to the water and wastewater networks may have benefits and hindrances. Companies may not wish to spend large sums on new sensors, pipes or technology, and the barriers for entry into the water and wastewater networks are already high. However, the benefits of adopting sensors into the networks outweigh these barriers.

There is a real need for remote monitoring. Monitoring removes the need for maintenance staff to check pipes as regularly or to collect samples for lab monitoring. It speeds up the identification of pollution events and reduces fines incurred by the water companies. It improves the efficiency of the treatment plants and provides a better service for customers. A steep investment, but the dividends pay off for many years to come.

Companies such as Suez have implemented smart water meters to track users’ water consumption in some locations in France, providing them with a better understanding of how and when users consume water.

Data brings understanding, and understanding brings better management of a system. Collecting data on the flow in water pipes allows companies to quickly identify regions where there is an increase in demand and, as a result, lower pressure in the pipes. Utility companies can correlate their usage data with current events. They can then answer questions such as: how much water is used per day in a heatwave? Who uses the most water? At what times of the day is the network strained?

Which sensors can be used in water network pipes?

There are many different properties and measurements recorded in a water supply or a wastewater network, including the following:

  • Pressure measurements (static, stagnation, head)
  • Flow levels (depth, pressure, velocity)
  • Flow meters (velocity)
  • Acoustic emission (leakage)
  • Temperature measurements
  • Chemical measurements (pH, trace metals, etc)

IDTechEx’s report details each of these sensors. The report also includes market forecasts, player profiles, investments and comprehensive company lists. For more information, click here.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/chombosan

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