Digital water technologies will innovate and drive forward new solutions in the water and wastewater industries. That’s according to a new IDTechEx report titled “Digital Water Networks 2020-2030,” which analyzes the players, technologies, and market opportunities for this new technology area.
A digital, or “smart,” water network is a water network which has additional capabilities, sensors, and IoT devices that allow the user to maintain and run a network more efficiently and effectively.
Such a water network enables water utilities to:
- Remotely monitor and identify problems, so that they can pre-emptively prioritize and identify maintenance issues. They can then remotely control all aspects of the water distribution network using data insights.
- The customer can be provided with information and tools so that they can make informed choices about their behavior patterns.
- Transparently and confidentially comply with regulations and policies on water quality and conservation.
There are different aspects of the value chain that digital water can influence. According to the report, firstly, there is the utilities industry. In distribution, monitoring the network and distribution pipes can simplify the management of the system. For example, data provided by smart water meters can provide real-time consumption patterns. Water demand response can be quicker and thus help with pressure regulation in the network. Furthermore, poor water quality can have an impact on health. Sensors can measure a wide range of chemicals and pollution in real-time. This means water quality can be tracked throughout the whole water network. Finally, with the new data insights with smart networks, utilities can communicate with customers and engage with them in new ways.
Data insights also mean that consumers, both C&I and residential, have more control over their water usage – with more detailed bills and up-to-date readings, they are able to contact the utility company if they notice an increase in water, which could indicate a leak. This would identify leaks quicker for the utility company.
In order to provide these services, water utility companies need to ensure that they can still be flexible in their approaches to future water networks and sensors as insights from current usage and data become more widespread across the industry. Communications technology and data analytics are now at a point where the water industry’s needs can be met.
The report provides an insight into the variety of opportunities which sensors can provide management and maintenance data for providers. Most countries water networks are built of a variety of parts. There are the larger pipes which create the main network, and there are smaller distribution pipes, with larger pipes requiring different measurement mechanisms to smaller pipes. Different areas can have different pipe materials, and this can limit the techniques for measurement.