Water & Wastewater Treatment

WWT January 2020

Water & Wastewater Treatment Magazine

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Page 23 of 39

The Knowledge: Innovation zone 24 | JANUARY 2020 | WWT | www.wwtonline.co.uk Graham Hainsworth, director of consulting services for the water sector at CGI UK, discusses the potential of smart sensor technology and how it can open up a variety of possibilities for the water industry. T alk to anyone in the industry right now and the message is the same: we need to be smarter with our water if we are to cope with future demand. Every day in the UK over three bil- lion litres of water are lost through leaks and the average consumer uses 151 litres of tap water a day. These levels are unsustainable and are part of what is pushing us to the brink of water shortages. Combined with drier weather, climate change and an increasing population we face not having enough water to meet demand in just 25 years' time. Water companies are our front line of defence against water wastage. Reflecting the scale of the challenge, the latest Ofwat price review set high expectations, looking for a reduction in leakage of 17 per cent by 2025. Reducing consumer water usage is high on the agenda, too: companies must find ways to cut average water use to 131 litres per per- son per day, a reduction of 13 per cent on today's levels. Building smart technol- ogy for water This battle to preserve the water supply demands smart thinking — and smart devices. Within our industry, organisa- tions are currently working on the beginning of smart home technology for water, exploring how the Internet of Things (IoT) can drive change. It is crucial to recognise that a network of smart sensors in consumers' homes has strong potential for tackling the twin challenges of reducing leakage and usage. Imagine sensors around the home creating a picture of Barnacle is a smart device able to detect water leaks and potential issues with the water supply before consumers are even aware there is a problem. Barnacle is a low-cost sen- sor package that the consumer places inside the toilet cistern: there is no need for expert installation. At every flush, it collects data about the clean water entering the house from the mains. The sensor will measure temperature, pressure and quality and, by detecting anomalies, will act as an early warning system and warn of potential leaks, either in the supply pipe or deeper within the network. One of the key checks Barnacle will make is whether the toilet cistern is operating continuously, which indicates that the toilet is leaking. It will even pick up hard to detect leaks that run from the cistern into the back of the pan. A leaking toilet can lose up to 215 litres of water a day, so early detection is crucial. Barnacle will also act as an early warning system for problems that could affect the home, detecting discoloured water and checking water temperatures to identify when pipes are at risk of freezing. In partnership with Northumbrian Water, CGI have developed a working proto- type of Barnacle in a live test environment. This will look to achieve a proof of concept that will pave the way for full-scale development. This innova- tion is a great example of how smart technology can play an important part in tackling one of the water industry's hardest challenges. Creating a sustainable future for water The question we need to be constantly asking ourselves is 'how can we work with water companies in an innovative way to enable the smart water revolution?' And the answer? Well, this smart water trial is just the beginning. We see a future where smart technology in the home supports water conservation by consumers and water companies, helping us to manage precious water resources in a sustainable way. The internet of things is vital to averting a water crisis use that consumers can easily relate to, touching a nerve that prompts them to make choices that save water and (if they are metered) money. Now broaden that smart home vision out into a net- work of connected house- holds, all feeding data back to the water company to generate a view of what is happening in the network. This is big data in action. By applying analytics to the regularly collected raw sensor data, water companies will be able to identify anoma- lies from normal consump- tion and pressure patterns to pinpoint leaks in the network much faster than they can cur- rently. Consumers can benefit from this bigger picture, too, receiving information that puts their individual usage info in a wider context, perhaps even encouraging a sense of motivating competition. How would you respond to knowing you are using 20 per cent more water than other customers in your neighbourhood? The smart water home in action Project Barnacle is leading the way in making smart home technology for water a reality. Stemming from a design sprint at Northumbrian Water's Innovation Festival last year,

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