Water is predicted to become a key part of India’s Smart Cities initiative. This article looks at how Smart Water Networks (SWN) can be developed to help advance the water sector, including to reduce an average non-revenue water (NRW) rate of 60%.
Today, cities around the world are expected to deliver clean, pressurised and reliable water to their residents’ taps on a daily basis. However, with increasing urbanisation and population growth leading to rising costs and water scarcity, cities are struggling to meet customer demands. By 2050, 75% of the world population will live in cities. These cities will face increasing water stress with demand expected to outstrip supply by 40% by 2030.
In India, demand already exceeds supply. While its economy is amongst the fastest growing in the world, with almost 76 million people, India also has the greatest amount of people living without access to safe water.
With these and other constraints, as well as consequent opportunities to address them, several countries such as India are striving to build “Smart Cities” to integrate city functions, utilise scarce resources more efficiently and improve citizen quality of life. Water is a significant aspect in all these Smart City efforts.
Cities face an ever-increasing array of ways to collect data and feed it into their decision-making. A Smart City links multiple systems within a network to share data across platforms in order to enhance safety and security and improve the efficiency of municipal services from energy, transportation, building, healthcare, public safety and water.
The Smart Cities Council defines a “Smart City” as a city that “uses information and communications technology (ICT) to enhance its livability, workability and sustainability.”
Furthermore, Smart Cities represent one of the fastest growing global sectors, projected to be over $3.3 trillion by 2025 (SWAN 2014).
Within a Smart City, a “Smart Water Network” (SWN) allows cities to better anticipate and react to different types of water network issues, from detecting leaks, theft and water quality incidents to conserving energy and tracking residential water consumption.
By monitoring real-time information, city operators can stay informed about what is going on in the field at all times and respond quickly and appropriately when a problem arises. This results in a city becoming more efficient and reducing the overall cost of service for the customer. In order to help illustrate how the different technology components of a SWN interconnect, SWAN devised a five-layer architecture model.
The “Physical” layer comprises the necessary components for delivering water (e.g. pipes, pumps, valves, PRVs (Pressure Reducing Valves), reservoirs and other delivery endpoints). The “Sensing and Control” layer contains equipment and sensors that measure parameters (e.g. flow, pressure, water quality, reservoir levels, water temperature, acoustic information, etc.). This data is then transmitted and stored through the “Collection and Communications” layer, which includes fixed cable networks, radio, cellular, and Wi-Fi.
The fourth layer, “Data Management and Display” aggregates data from the below three layers to create an interface with human operators such as a SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system, GIS (Geographic Information System), network visualisation tools, and water balance applications.
The final layer, “Data Fusion and Analysis” is where more sophisticated processing of raw data occurs. This may include, for example, real-time data analytics, hydraulic modelling, network infrastructure monitoring, or automatic pressure and energy optimisation systems.