Dan Preece, Vice President of IoT at Connexin says it’s time to start innovating the future of water utility management with Smart Water Networks

By Dan Preece, Vice President of IoT at Connexin

The UK faces a concerning issue: water waste. Despite it being surrounded by water, the safe, potable kind is a spare commodity. In fact, leaky pipes are causing us to waste around one trillion litres of water every single year.

Much of climate change involves water in some way, such as wildfires and droughts. The World Meteorological Organisation has reported that only 0.5% of the water on Earth is usable and available freshwater, with terrestrial water storage decreasing by 1cm each year. Such statistics prove the sheer threat of climate change. 

But innovation in the sector is occurring, with this year’s World Water Week dedicating itself to innovative ideas and systems in the face of a water scarceness, climate change and other challenges. Events such as this give people from a range of professional specialisms an opportunity to discuss water as a tool to combat climate change. 

Smart technology to drive efficiencies  

To manage this sheer amount of water waste, we need to gain a better understanding of what’s happening. Shifting our attention to identifying water patterns and forming robust strategies to manage water loss. This is easier said than done. However, technology is advancing rapidly and getting smarter to help water utilities gain a far clearer, real-time perspective of water usage and can help them to identify leaks, implement preventative measures and reduce waste faster than ever before.  All while ensuring a consistent supply of high-quality water to consumers around the country.  

The Internet of Things (IoT) has gained momentum over the years as a way for physical objects and devices in our world to connect and transmit relevant and new types of data through networks into powerful cloud-based platforms to gain new insights and understandings of what is happening in their infrastructure. In the water utility space, it holds the potential to accelerate the development and improve the management of water, in the form of a Smart Water Network. This allows them to monitor consumption 24 hours a day at many different points within their network, drive efficiencies, and monitor asset conditions, all through the data driven insights it produces. 

Success for the West Midlands and Yorkshire 

Successful Smart Water Networks across Coventry and Warwickshire, and the Yorkshire region for example, have seen local authorities, utilities companies and vendors collaborate to install and exploit networks based around LoRaWAN connectivity which collect and analyse water usage data by connecting with water meters in the ground at each property served. With the meters in place and the network fully implemented, insights and trends can be reported and actioned promptly, and preventative measures can be put in place to reduce the level of water waste and subsequent climate impact. The connectivity of these new low power networks is stable and reliable, and the smart meters have a battery life of around 15 years, meaning that the technology is self-sufficient – saving time and money in the longer term. 

As well as leakages, smart water networks can help target common issues such as pollution incidents and energy use through smart metering and water quality sensors. They can also be used to provide customers with further breakdown of their water usage, transforming how the utilities industry works with its customers to increase customer satisfaction. Customers receive accurate, automated billing, allowing them to proactively make decisions on how they actually use water and how they can use it better. Amidst the cost-of-living crisis and climate emergency, reducing water wastage and usage – and therefore saving money – is essential. 

In-depth analysis to reduce annual leakage 

IoT, and LoRaWAN networks in particular, have proven their transformational role in the water utility management revolution already. Severn Trent Water, for example, has implemented the first large scale deployment, aiming to tackle leakage and track usage. The average annual leakage per person stands at 140 litres. However, by forming a water strategy with the aid of connected smart meters, Coventry’s average usage per person has decreased to 115 litres and this is expected to fall further as efforts continue.  

With the aid of this data, utilities also have the opportunity to make their processes smarter. With end-to-end deployment, this is more than possible. From generating and connecting data, to integrating and optimising it, the entire process can be safely overseen by IoT specialists who collaborate with the organisations to achieve the desired results and goals. 

LoRaWAN for long term success 

The future of water utility management – and our world – lies in these smart water networks which can keep data and communications accurate, rapid and secure. For utilities, it will be hugely beneficial in increasing the efficiency of processes and keeping their customers well-informed. For the water sector’s impact in climate change, it comes down to one vital accomplishment: to reduce water waste. 

Dan Preece, Vice President of IoT at Connexin.

SourceConnexin

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