Cities around the world are growing exponentially in terms of population. This growth is linked with increasing demand for better amenities/conveniences and services from governments and utilities to ensure a high quality life for residents. This is where smart cities come into play.
Governments and private sectors are investing huge amounts of money for the cities infrastructure such as smart water, smart mobility, smart buildings (energy efficient), smart energy through smart meters and grids, smart public services and smart integration of systems.
However there are enormous challenges to be overcome in the existing scenario when it comes to modernization of age-old systems. It is therefore important to improve the critical systems and infrastructure at a fundamental level while integrating advanced technology.
Water being the most critical system of any city, needs to be addressed smartly. It is inevitable that water consumption will go up as the population increases and hence smart water systems are needed to manage this precious resource efficiently.
Some Smart water Solutions…….
Smart water Network:
Since potable water is limited we have to find ways and means of harnessing this resource more efficiently. It is therefore very important that a city’s water system (distribution and management) be sound and capable of being monitored and networked.
A smart water Network caters to automated process control and is capable of processing data in real time to harvest information that can be further utilized.
Every water management actively creates data, whether it is gathering, treating, or distributing water. This data can reveal valuable information and business insight. The enhanced/automated system controls process in real time which helps to save water and reduces labour cost and controlling water theft, leading to good customer service.
Online network optimization:
An online network system combined with SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems enable network monitoring. We understand an online network system, but what is SCADA?
SCADA is an industrial automation control system which is the foundation of modern industries. SCADA systems deploy numerous hardware and software elements that allow organizations to:
- Gather, monitor and process data
- Collaborate with control machines and devices like motors, valves, pumps which are connected through HMI (human-machine interface) software
- Records events in log file
With the use of such systems, proactive decisions can be taken with regards to water quality, leakages and other operational status. This would help cut down electricity bills and increase operational efficiency.
Energy Optimization system for wastewater treatment:
Wastewater treatment is the process of removing contaminants from wastewater. The treatment consists of a combination of physical, chemical and biological processes and operations to remove solids and organic matter from wastewater. A lot of energy is consumed during the process leading to high operating expenses. Optimizing treatment plants can reduce expenses.
For improved/better energy management and lower operating costs it is imperative to have an Energy Optimization System. Energy Optimization System is a management and information system. This system can enable municipal corporations/operators to cut energy-related operating costs and optimize their energy use. Overall it improves productivity and business sustainability while maintaining the quality of water. This in turn would reduce carbon footprints, thereby also protecting the environment from further damage.
River Basin and Storm water Management:
Cities are extremely susceptible to weather related events due to the special characteristics of the soil, land use and high population density. Due to global warming there is an overall change in climatic conditions. Many parts of the world are experiencing vicious storms leading to dramatic consequences in the city and natural environment.
Sewer overflows spoil the water quality and hence must be controlled by using suitable measures. Storm water management systems can provide accurate information related to storm water and waste water processes. It can indicate/predict probable flooding locations.
Based on the predictions, precautionary measures can be taken to plan and accommodate the storm water and thereby manage the treatment system. Such a system would help in pre-planning and responding to critical events in a way that would save money, time, loss of property, lives and thereby optimize safety and security.
Water loss Management:
Fresh water is a scarce resource. Water loss management is extremely important to be able to cater to the growing population. Many parts of the world are experiencing drought or drought like conditions. Scores of countries are over pumping groundwater as they struggle to meet/satisfy their growing water needs.
Groundwater depletion is primarily caused by sustained groundwater pumping. The negative effects of groundwater depletion are drying up of wells, reduction of water in lakes and streams, deterioration of water quality, increased pumping costs and land subsistence (collapsing of soil).
This problem can be definitely addressed by incorporating smart water technologies. With the use of these technologies, it is possible to minimize non-revenue water (NRW) by finding leaks quickly. Reducing NRW in turn allows municipal corporations to recover costs incurred in pumping and treating (labour, chemicals, energy expenses) water.
Rain water harvesting:
Here again, the ever growing population with its increased need for water supply stresses upon the need to conserve water in all manners possible. Municipalities have been stretched to their limits to find water for the growing populations. Indiscriminate development and rapid urbanization have led to drastic reduction in exposed soil surface with reduced percolation of rainwater, thereby depleting groundwater resource. To add to it, groundwater is being extracted by the governments and private parties leading to further drastic reduction in groundwater levels. Water must be replenished soon to prevent irreversible damage.
Rain water harvesting can most certainly be used as a solution to control water problem to a large extent. Rainwater harvesting is a technique of collecting and storing rainwater into tanks or natural reservoirs before it is lost as surface runoff.
A smart city needs better water facilities but it is only possible to achieve such facilities if along with the governments, the citizens are equally smart, sensitive and proactive in saving and conserving water.