11 Aug We can be smarter about how we deliver water
Talk of smart cities and smart technologies immediately conjures up images of the Internet of Things, big data, algorithms and artificial intelligence. Fridges that tell us to buy more butter. Street lighting that brightens and dims as we drive by. But ‘smart’, in the broadest sense, has a role to play in engineering and deploying sustainable water solutions, too.
All around the world, people want our industry to provide them with secure supplies of clean drinking water. They want reliable water for agricultural, industrial, power generation and other uses. They want us to separate and treat sewage safely. They want us to prevent the pollution of their rivers, lakes and underground fresh water sources. And they want us to do all this with minimal disruption to their daily lives. Smart can help us get there. To us, being smart involves not only data, sensors, connectivity and software, it also involves new product and service concepts and step-change innovation. As Amiblu, we believe in applying ‘smart’ thinking across the board. It begins with the benefits offered by GRP technology, and spreads from there.
Take cities. Smart cities separate stormwater flows and sewage to prevent the pollution of ground and river water. But this is not always possible. However, rather than simply accepting the risks posed by all-in-one sewage and stormwater systems, we have developed a Combined Sewer Overflow chamber. This custom-made solution outperforms traditional overflow systems by doing a better job at separating solid waste from stormwater before the latter drains into a river or lake. That’s smart. Going further, we envision working with installation partners, IT specialists and network operators to transform dumb pipes and inspection holes into connected ones. This way we could monitor flow and water level data to provide early warning of sewage leaks and surge events; measure pressure and flow rates to adjust and optimise hydropower production; and measure pressure and flow to manage water supplies and irrigation systems.
We can also use smart thinking to improve the installation and maintenance of our water networks. GPS-based network registration, for example, can prevent pipelines getting ‘lost’ in the future, while also documenting the design and other critical criteria. Smart is also behind our ‘no dig’ jacking solution for new build pipelines, and our ‘push through’ relining concept that extends the life of ageing sewer systems by decades. Both speed up installation while reducing civil works, traffic hindrance and general inconvenience.
All this is smart. And we have only just begun.