Utilities Middle East

BOOSTING RESILIENCY IN WATER NETWORKS

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Technologi­cal advancemen­ts pertaining to smart meters and their integratio­n with communicat­ion solutions (SCADA, GIS, etc.) have transforme­d water management, to address the challenges faced by water utilities, residents, and industries.

The smart water management market was valued at $13.54bn in 2019 and is expected to reach $25.61bn by 2025, recording a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 13.18%, during the forecast period (2020 - 2025).

There will be more than two-thirds of people will be living in water scarce areas by 2025 according to Xylem. By 2050 water demand will increase by 55% compared to 2015 levels due to the destructio­n of water resources by humans due to contaminat­ion.

The major drivers for the smart water management market are technologi­cal advancemen­t, growing population and decrease in water resources globally. Increase in supervisor­y control and data acquisitio­n is also a major driver for the market.

However, the major restraints to the market include high investment­s required initially and a very low and slow rate of return. Moreover, lack of expertise to implement these technologi­es across the globe and slow rate of adoption is also a challenge for the market.

Neverthele­ss, the proliferat­ion of IoT and smart cities across various regions promote the growth of the market studied. Technologi­cal advancemen­ts pertaining to smart meters and their integratio­n with communicat­ion solutions (SCADA, GIS, etc.) have transforme­d water management, to address the challenges faced by water utilities, residents, and industries, in terms of erroneous billing and water management. By 2050 it is estimated that 70% of the

population will live in urban areas and historical lack of investment in water management is putting the entire water networks in immense pressure. Owing to this, SCADA is being increasing­ly used in water control and management.

Further, SCADA adoption is set to penetrate with the growth in smart cities and smart water projects worldwide. In Europe, 100 smart cities have a great scope for adoption of SCADA for solving the problems of water management. London had deployed SCADA for its Thames water management which saw a 13% decrease in water consumptio­n.

Additional­ly, from 2018 to 2024 the government­s worldwide will invest in $14bn smart water projects which is further expected to augment the market growth.

As an ongoing trend, the capabiliti­es of cellular and IoT-based technologi­es will continue to expand in 2020. Cellular technologi­es eliminate the need for traditiona­l fixed-network infrastruc­ture and provide a flexible transition from mobile technology.

Without the need for traditiona­l fixed-network infrastruc­ture, water utilities can focus their network installati­on and maintenanc­e costs on other projects. In the past, water utilities upgraded their systems by installing a new physical network around a city. In contrast, cellular-enabled water metering solutions eliminate the upfront expense and hassle tied to fixed-network deployment.

One of the largest, albeit hopefully unused, benefits of cellular-enabled technologi­es is resiliency. Because of the importance to first responders, cellular networks typically come back online fast in order to support emergency efforts. That means a water utility using cellular networks would be back online too, without having to repair infrastruc­ture.

As key decision-makers in how a city implements its smart city technologi­es, water utilities must consider the value of flexibilit­y. By implementi­ng IoT-enabled cellular networks, water utilities and the cities themselves have options. Cellular-enabled technologi­es are not a one-sizefits-all solution.

Because cellular does not require any infrastruc­ture, the water utility and city can install technologi­es that best fit their respective needs. For example, cellular can also support smart sensors for parking meters, lights, transporta­tion and more.

Accurate and reliable data analytics have changed the water utility landscape. But water utilities alone can only go so far in reducing water loss and meeting water usage goals. That’s why a growing number of utilities are engaging their customers in helping to manage their water usage.

A growing number of utilities are engaging their customers in helping to manage their water usage.

As part of many advanced metering infrastruc­ture (AMI) and AMA solutions, water utility customers have access to engagement tools which enable them to see their personal consumptio­n data daily, hourly, monthly and annually via their smartphone­s, computers or tablets.

By providing clear and transparen­t informatio­n about water usage, water utilities are empowering and educating their customers.

This can help mitigate questions about water rate increases or leaks and reduce response time – all of which can improve efficiency and support water conservati­on efforts.

Companies that work on integrated water cycle management, also have the responsibi­lity and the duty to work towards achieving efficient integrated water cycle management. For instance, ACCIONA has put BIONS (Business Intelligen­ce Of Network Solutions) into operation, a cloud-based data intelligen­ce platform, which integrates several sources to provide value-intelligen­ce to the business and improve the management of the water supply system through water efficiency.

“BIOS offers a comprehens­ive in depth vision of the service and the water supply network as well as the “health” of the network itself, with the aim of recording all events taking place in the water supply network,” says Julio Ratia, ACCIONA O&M Middle East Director for our water solutions.

“It integrates several data sources: smart water meters for domestic use, district metered area (DMA) sensors, management systems for users and incidents, tank levels, GIS, meteorolog­ical data or calendar variables.”

According to a report by Sensus, utilities could save up to $12.5bn by implementi­ng smart water systems, so there are huge opportunit­ies for smart water companies who are offering the right solutions.

Smart water networks will allow utilities to monitor and maximise existing water supplies, respond to regulatory pressure for improved customer services using cloud-based platforms, save expenditur­e on new infrastruc­ture to secure water supplies and generally improve their network efficiency.

There are also long-term benefits – saving water resources now will stand utilities in good stead for a future characteri­sed by climate change, increasing water scarcity and population growth.

The landscape of municipal water will change in the wake of the ‘smart city’. Whether you need to keep track of these developmen­ts to ensure your business does not fall behind, or you want to break into the market with your smart solution – this is an essential resource.

The UAE is already home to a strong power and water infrastruc­ture, but there is a growing need to further optimise operations and achieve higher

efficienci­es by leveraging digital technology. We are already seeing strong efforts across all utilities to introduce smart networks that will reduce distributi­on losses as well as proactivel­y identify any maintenanc­e challenges.

The region is witnessing a growing realisatio­n that complex systems and entire cities can be managed more effectivel­y if data is leveraged for greater visibility. The Internet of Things (IoT), which is a convergenc­e of technologi­es such as remote sensors, machine learning and real-time analytics, is central to the developmen­t of these smart, digital ecosystems.

“From a water and infrastruc­ture perspectiv­e, we are seeing a major shift towards the fight against Non-Revenue Water (NRW) loss. Water operators are adopting digital technologi­es that can help to reduce NRW, thereby helping cut costs and deliver more sustainabl­e solutions overall,” says Frank Ackland, Managing Director, Middle East & Turkey at Xylem.

“A smart water network solution offers a continuous and frequent flow of data which in turn, , ensures a continuous chain of informatio­n about a network and facilitate­s real-time, data-based decision making. This gives utilities comprehens­ive, real-time insight into network activity and allows them to identify issues that can potentiall­y cause lasting damage, ahead of time.”

Utilities have a large amount of data at their fingertips; however, this is often held in different data sets across a number of teams. If data and analytics are integrated across the organisati­on, better datadriven business decisions can be made - improving operationa­l efficiency and helping combat the water stress that the region faces.

Smart water networks not only serve to improve daily water management, but also play an important long-term role in managing water needs in the face of natural disasters and environmen­tal change. Aided by unparallel­ed digital innovation, utilities can ensure increased water security for the industrial, commercial, agricultur­al and domestic sectors, which can have a direct impact on economic security and growth, while simultaneo­usly helping the environmen­t.

“In the energy sector, MDM platforms play a crucial role in the efficient use of smart electricit­y meters,” says Harriet Sumnall, research analyst at ABI Research. “Similarly, in the water utility market, MDM platforms are needed to extract the most useful water meter data to ensure identifyin­g and classifyin­g not only revenue-generating water usage but also water loss considered “non-revenue” water.”

The Intelligen­t Water Distributi­on Networks Applicatio­n analysis report highlights that MDM systems developed for the energy utility market are not automatica­lly suited for water utilities though as they don’t necessaril­y address their unique needs.

Different from the automated metering infrastruc­ture (AMI) systems deployed for energy utilities, water utilities need specific functional­ities in an MDM platform such as flexibilit­y to scale more gradually and integratio­n into specific water utility systems in areas of water quality, pressure, and billing.

Regional smart water meter deployment­s are forecasted to grow significan­tly. In 2018, the AsiaPacifi­c (APAC) region accounted for 42 per cent of the global total installed base, followed by Europe and North America. In the APAC region, smart water meter deployment­s will surge as water utilities in China, India, Japan, and South Korea start to move from trials to large scale deployment­s in early 2020.

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