Role of Digitization in Smart Water Management
Xylem Water Solutions India Pvt Ltd - Bengaluru

Digitization is the talk of the time, and smart water management is the need of the hour to solve various water related issues. This article narrates how digitization does foster smart water management. Not only is that, the article also exhibits various solution instances as brief business cases.

India is the second most populous country in the world. It has over 17 percent of world population, but has only 4 percent of fresh-water resources. Nearly half of India's population is facing severe water crisis. The water crisis hampers economic growth, well-being of the nation, and sustainability of the ecosystem. Managing critical assets and aging water infrastructure pose serious challenges and require significant investments. Most of the investments that are done in these areas are reactive and are generally driven by emergencies, causing disruption, and a major loss of productivity. Hence there is a need for an intelligent system that is able to foresee and predict the emergency situations well in advance.

Digital technologies in water sector utilize sensors, automation, and artificial intelligence to predict failures or operational issues, thereby driving better system performance. It empowers key stakeholders to take better decisions regarding future capital and operational investments. Smart Water, or Digital Water, or Internet of Water refers to the use of these advanced technologies and forms a vital component of Smart Cities. According to the analysis report by McKinsey Global Institute on "Smart Cities: Digital Solutions for more livable future", the range of digital application in Smart Cities could cut the greenhouse gas emission by ~15 percent, reduced water consumption by ~30 percent, and solid waste per capita by ~20 percent.

Various enabling technologies for digital solutions in the water sectors are as follows:

1) Deployment of sensors, analytic tools, remote sensing, geographic information systems (GIS) technologies, and visualization tools can help in monitoring and forecasting of various parameters related to water quality, infrastructure, weather, and system performance. These technologies can prepare key stakeholders of water resource departments and utilities against any unforeseen incidents like storm water flow or drought, water quality deterioration, sewer blockage, water pipeline leakages, and other challenges.
2) Data processing by using Artificial Intelligence (AI) helps in better prediction of failures and operational issues. AI can be paired with software as a service (SaaS) platforms, sensors, and communication networks to create Digital Twins of assets, systems of processes, thereby allowing strategic and costeffective operation of utilities. This is due to better planning and execution of projects, better system level performance, better tracking and understanding of resource-loss in real time, more efficient collection & distribution networks, and maximum revenue capture & customer satisfaction. Digital twins can also be used to simulate different scenarios for better planning for emergencies.
3) Augmented and virtual reality can be used for training projects & service teams by providing holographic representation of pipelines, cables, and other cost intensive assets.
4) Block chain applications for water provide possibility of direct, safe, and easy transaction between the service providers, consumers, and other players.

The digitization in water has various associated benefits. Various benefits derived out of the digital water are as follows:

Xylem is a leading water technology company that is committed to solving water. We possess an array of products and services that is helping utilities, communities and industries to solve water. Our solutions span the entire water life cycle. From collection & distribution to reuse and return to nature, our highly efficient water technologies, industrial pumps, and application solutions not only use less energy and reduce life-cycle costs, but also promote sustainability. Xylem also provides a leading portfolio of smart metering, network technologies, and advanced infrastructure analytics solutions for water, electric, and gas utilities.

Here are a few examples of how various digital water solutions provided by Xylem have created an impact on our customers at a global scale.

Improved performance through predicting failures & operational issues :
  • Pengurusan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd, Malaysia, partnered with Xylem to proactively detect leaks and pipe bursts on over 3,725 miles of critical pipes. Data from high resolution pressure and acoustic sensors have enabled important insights into the operation of the network and the nature & distribution of leaks on the trunk mains. In the first year alone, 70 major leaks and bursts have been successfully detected and repaired.
  • Howard County, Maryland was looking to optimize their capital program to reduce leaks and main breaks. Partnering with Xylem, the team implemented an artificial intelligence supported risk model that prioritized the riskiest pipes and recommended appropriate management strategies to minimize risk. Since the beginning of the program, the County has achieved planned levels of service at 75 percent of the cost of conventional methods.
  • A private utility in Singapore was experiencing leaks and breaks on approximately 9 miles of new steel trunk main and was not able to determine the cause. By implementing high sampling rate pressure sensors and advanced analytics in large magnitude, damaging pressure transients were quickly detected, located and mitigated, eliminating the issue and generating approximately USD 15 million in savings.
Better visibility and performance optimization :
  • Thames Water in the United Kingdom wanted to understand the nature of their water source to support the optimization treatment. Using Xylem's automated systems, they were able to generate vertical profiles of water quality at key locations in their drinking water reservoirs. This visibility allowed them to optimize intake selection and mixing protocols to mitigate taste and odor problems and reduce the release of potential cyanotoxins, thus reducing treatment requirements, costs, and customer complaints.
  • The City of Houston, Texas, wanted to assess and maintain its 100,000 distribution system valves to establish and ensure system control. Together, Xylem and the City established a robust valve assessment program. To date, 4,700 valves have been found in the incorrect position, creating over 8,000 "dead-end", which often increase water age in distribution systems. Correcting this issue has improved water quality, increased fire flows, eliminated nearly 200 miles of "dead-ends", and enhanced the accuracy of the City's GIS.
  • Baltimore County, Maryland, was looking to use data to manage their critical force mains. Working with Xylem, they implemented a comprehensive force main assessment program using a combination of SmartBallĀ®, PipeDiverĀ®, and PureRoboticsTM inspection technologies. These assessments determined that 3.5 percent of pipes showed signs of deterioration, with only 0.5 percent requiring the repair. The program has empowered the County to safely and cost effectively manage its system while avoiding unnecessary replacements.
  • Denver Water in Colorado faced the challenge of integrating information between their Customer Billing System, Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS), and GIS to support their over 300 field staff. Xylem's KonaTM solution provided a flexible mobile frontend where dispatch and field staff can see all work being conducted in one view, powered by a robust and seamless back-end integration platform. This implementation enabled information to flow between major back office systems while preserving the source system data structures and removing the need for expensive middleware. Over the course of 10 years, Denver Water has saved over USD 20 million by increasing staff efficiency across dispatch and field functions and IT integration costs.
Better resilience against extreme weather events :
  • The City of Fountain Valley, California, sought to increase its drought resilience by deploying advanced metering Infrastructure. The city selected Xylem's Sensus Smart Utility Network solution, which enabled their team to monitor high volume consumption and identify leaks, resulting in a 23 percent decrease in water consumption and the achievement of ambitious conservation goals.
Availability, quality, and affordability are the key challenges being faced by the water sector today. Xylem is uniquely positioned to address these complex water issues through the use of advanced technology. Let's Solve Water - is Xylem's tagline, as well as goal. Xylem possesses Smart Digital solutions that help to proactively manage water related assets in efficient, effective, and economical way. It increases the impact of the capital investment, while lowering the risk of system failure. These products and solutions are backed up by the global brands and many years of expertise. These solutions have been implemented across the globe and significant benefits have been realized by the water utilities, communities, and customers.