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As per WHO, by 2025, 1 in every 2 people will be living in a water stress area. The world is on a brink of facing a severe water crisis that according to many experts could trigger WW3. Based on this, it is safe to say that in the coming time, freshwater will be amongst the most valuable resources on Earth. On the other hand, According to UNDP most of the time, water scarcity is results due to the poor management of water resources. That being said, various studies have shown that on average, during supply 10-20% of water is lost in the distribution system, due to leaks, and other defects. While in developing countries, this number is even higher. As per a report by ASSOCHAM, the city of Delhi, witness up to 40% of the loss of total distributed water. And this loss doesn’t include the loss of water that takes place at the consumer end, due to faulty tap, overflowing, reckless use, etc.
To combat water scarcity and curb water losses, many local governments and municipalities are now looking toward smart management of water. And one of the leading technologies that have shown huge potential for this purpose is IoT. IoT stands for Internet of Things and can be defined as a system of interrelated, internet-connected objects that can collect and transfer data over a wireless network without human intervention.
One of the major pre-requisite for an efficient water management system is the ability to predict and identify problems even before they arise. A smart water management system should be able to determine the amount of water that any particular city is going to utilize during the next day, as well as should be able to monitor the status of the entire supply chain in real-time, and identify any leak or loss as soon as it arises. IoT has shown great potential in meeting all the above parameters.
While establishing a proper network of sensors, servers, and computers for IoT seems costly at first. Proper implementation of IoT not only helps in cutting down water loss, but it can also reduce the energy demand by effectively running pumps, reducing the maintenance time, monitoring the quality of water, etc. making it cost-effective in the longer run.
Possible application of IoT in smart water management:
- Water Quality Control
Using IoT, we can monitor the real-time water quality and the different junctions of the supply system and ensure the proper quality of water throughout the system. Not only this, but we can also identify the junction from which pollution is entering and quickly fix that.
- Smart Irrigation
Irrigation makes up a large percentage of water demand in rural areas. Even in urban areas more people are becoming environmentally cautious and planting more and more trees, and irrigation demand has gone up. With high demand, irrigation also accounts for huge water wastage as most of the time, irrigation water ends up getting evaporated. With the help of IoT, we can provide the right amount of water at the right destination for the right duration and only when needed, hence minimizing the wastage of water.
- Predicting water demand
Predicting water demand plays a huge role in any water management system. By knowing the amount of water that is required for overall consumption in a city on any given day in advance, it becomes easier for the water authorities to maintain that level and prevent pumping extra water on low-demand days while meeting the excess demand on surge day. By applying IoT authorities can predict the water demand with precision by studying previous trends and using predictive analytics
- Implementing leakage control
Leakage is the biggest cause of concern for authorities. Leakage not only leads to loss of water but also leaves the supply vulnerable to being contaminated. By using IoT we can constantly monitor the water pressure, and water quality. And hence IoT can easily detect the point of the leak and notify the concerned authorities.
- Maintenance of the circulation system
Maintenance of the circulation system is an essential process that needs to be carried out regularly but carrying out maintenance is time-consuming and requires the closing down of the entire circulation system. IoT can be used to streamline the process and make it more efficient. By regular monitoring, IoT can help detect segments that need more frequent maintenance as well as can be used to effectively communicate the schedule with all stakeholders.
- Monitoring consumption
Water theft is a problem that possesses a serious challenge to the authorities. Water theft not only caused a loss in revenue but this unmonitored or unbilled consumption often leads to irresponsible use of water and water wastage. By using IoT based water management system, authorities can keep a check on theft.
- Monitoring wastewater discharge from industry
Many industries have started using IoT-based water monitoring to reduce their water consumption as well as monitor their wastewater discharge making sure that it remains within the legal limit.
As we upgrade our infrastructure, IoT-based technologies are becoming more and more practical. With most megacities launching some sort of up-gradation programs for their water supply system, IoT-based water management systems are looking more attractive. There is no question that IoT has huge potential but only if applied right. An IoT-based system will be at a high risk of being a target of cyber-attacks by cybercriminals or enemy nations. Hence it has to have robust security. That being said, IoT has the potential to become a single solution for all water management problems in the coming years.