As the famous line, “Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink,” from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner suggests, the world’s most valuable resource is not nearly as infinite as we want to believe. Indeed, according to the United Nations, water scarcity is on the rise.
The UN calls it “a lack of sufficient available water resources to meet the demands of water usage within a region,” but whatever it’s called, it’s expected to impact nearly 20 percent of the world’s population by 2025, while also affecting the entire planet and its fragile ecosystems indirectly.
That’s one reason why the management of global water supplies, whether for business or personal consumption, is moving into the capable hands not of humans but technology, where smart water management can be monitored and analyzed via the Internet of Things (IoT) to help keep the faucets flowing.
IoT technology, using predictable and efficient management, can monitor, control, and regulate the use and quality of water resources. It’s a possibly life-saving technology which also maintains related equipment through some amazing technology: the integration of systems and procedures such as sensors, meters, data processing and visualisation tools, actuators, and online and mobile controls.
From a freshwater reservoir through to wastewater collection and recycling, smart water technology delivers transparency and greater control to the whole water supply chain.
So, what is IoT?
These nonstandard computing devices connect wirelessly to a network and send data, extending internet connectivity to a wide range of daily devices like desktops, laptops, smartphones, and tablets. Embedded with technology, these devices can connect and interact through the internet as well as be remotely monitored and controlled.
These devices can, for instance, communicate with one another to automate residential and industrial processes, sending usable sensor data to users and corporations. When it comes to water, IoT can be used to better manage water resources and achieve efficient and optimal results in every phase of the water monitoring cycle.
Right now, the approach to water management is hampered by a lack of appropriate instruments for analysing trends and human behaviour, which results in ineffective water distribution plans. Consumers also lack the necessary instruments to monitor and alert them to water usage and consumption, as well as storage capacity remaining, all of which contribute to incorrect water consumption.
One of the most difficult aspects of water management and conservation in a city, for example, is determining how much water each city will use the following day. Predictive analytics can determine this with pinpoint accuracy, accomplished by keeping track of the city’s water consumption on any given day.
When it’s known how much water a city uses in total consumption on any day, it’s much easier for water authorities to keep the level of water in a reservoir/tank at a constant level and then pump the water into overhead tanks as needed throughout the day.
When it comes to agricultural irrigation practices, much water is wasted in the current process, especially if computerised scheduling patterns are used. This means the irrigation procedure takes place at a specific time and for a specific length of time, regardless of weather circumstances or soil moisture levels.
IoT can be utilised to provide the correct amount of water to the right location at the right time, only when it’s needed, with the use of specific soil sensors and weather sensors which send their results to a server that can study weather forecasts to make the best irrigation decisions. This results in the watering valve being opened and closed at optimized times and for optimized periods.
IoT technology also aids in the scheduling of pump maintenance and shutdown on a regular basis via optimization approaches that can notify people in advance about potential water shortages. This benefits the water regulatory authorities not only in satisfying the city’s appropriate water demands, but also in resource and energy saving.
Another benefit of IoT technology in water management is the lower cost and consumption of electricity, with energy prices at different times of the day being calculated using predictive analytics. This information can then be used to schedule pumps throughout the day so no further energy or resources are wasted.
Sensors make sense
Because of their wide range of uses and functions, sensors have numerous applications in smart water management, such as monitoring the quality of raw catchment water and the chemical composition of treated water and wastewater. They can measure and report on the changing quantity in the storage reservoir, the pressure on the pipes in the distribution pipeline, the wear of the equipment and machinery that process and distribute water to end-users, and more in a very basic water supply chain.
Managers at various points in the water supply chain can use data produced by IoT water sensors to gain crucial insights into the changing conditions of water supplies and equipment and execute data-driven remedial steps on demand.
Smart meters and monitoring hubs enable real-time water-consumption monitoring, as well as the identification of excessive usage and waste locations, leading to correction of usage trends and forecasting future consumption. Production and distribution managers, as well as large homes, can benefit from this water management technique by rectifying water usage habits and achieving sustainability and budgeting goals.
Companies are increasingly adopting fully automated water management strategies, as distribution systems can regulate and control water supply using environmental sensors and predetermined or machine-learning algorithms. Sprinklers, for example, give just enough water based on readings from soil moisture, air humidity, and crop condition sensors in smart irrigation.
Due to an expanding population, environmental concerns, and pressure on the food and agriculture industries, water is becoming a more precious resource day by day. In these circumstances, smart water management can use and recycle water resources in a fair and sustainable way.
It will accomplish this by improving water quality and preventing contamination by chemical waste and natural pollution; improving the efficiency of water systems such as water collectors, treatment plants, distribution mains, and wastewater recycling centres; implementing leakage control using smart water-management devices equipped with leak and moisture sensors; and practicing consumption monetisation.
Companies may use IoT and data solutions for asset management to maintain crucial parameters like water pressure, temperature, and flow close; incorporate predictive maintenance; and reduce equipment damage and downtime.
These techniques also aid in the optimization and management of water resources at various levels, from individual families to the entire globe. Water management IoT technologies also assist industry stakeholders, governments, and typical consumers in achieving sustainability and efficiency goals, by linking all systems and players in the water supply chain.
These are such varied elements as water sources, treatment plants, and industrial water management systems, distribution facilities, utility and clean energy companies, and consumers. Decision-makers get critical, real-time information about the state of water resources and equipment used in the supply chain.
One of the most significant advantages of IoT-based smart water management is the increased transparency of all activities in the water supply chain. Different stakeholders gain valuable insights into their resources and system performance thanks to data collected across the supply chain resulting in more educated judgments about how to improve operations.
Another advantage of combining smart water-management systems is the capacity to detect or even predict problems and respond quickly. Real-time monitoring of water quality and chemical composition, for example, allows early detection of even minor pollution and prompt treatment before it becomes problematic.
Managers can employ IoT water management systems to partially or entirely automate some procedures and maximise the utilisation of human resources depending on the industry and individual company requirements. Smart water supply firms and utility networks, for example, can use linked meters, real-time monitoring systems, and dynamic pricing models to automate the full lifecycle of providing water to customers.
Automation, better human resource utilisation, a data-driven strategy, and a proactive approach to equipment maintenance and resource utilisation all add up to significant cost savings.
This is just one of the reasons why the use of IoT in water management is such a hot topic in water industry circles.
Many retrofit and innovation initiatives in the energy, construction, and logistics sectors have sustainability aims at their core, which is why smart water technologies are no longer viewed solely as a source of cost savings and increased efficiency, but as a means of achieving a variety of environmental goals, including decreased carbon footprint, pollution, and, most importantly, water preservation.
With the basic goal of using and recycling water resources in a fair and sustainable manner, it’s easy to see why smart water management is on the rise and being adopted by a variety of industries.
Ultimately, the fate of the entire planet rests on the preservation of a resource many take for granted, with much owed to researchers working on long-term water conservation initiatives. Using the data provided by IoT, water supply-management and other connected systems throughout the supply chain, researchers are building data-driven strategies to optimize the use of water resources for the benefits of communities, ecosystems and the entire planet.