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Author's profile photo James McClelland

Why can’t my water utility be more like my dog……..

It was a cold winter in Texas and most of the water pipes in the houses are laid under a concrete slab and not insulated. One day in January, my beloved bulldog started to lay down in a new location on the tiles in my living room. I thought this was strange, but he has a mind of his own. When he got up the tiles were warm, but I just thought it was from him lying on the tiles. This went on for a few days, but the tiles were getting warmer. I also noticed that the water from my kitchen faucet was staying warm.

Alas, at the end of the month my water bill arrived with a shocking amount. It all made sense now. My dog had detected a broken water pipe at my home before my water company. Hundreds of liters of fresh water wasted.

This is only one small story of water waste around the globe. Changing weather patterns have shifted water basins creating unprecedented droughts. We are experiencing increased water shortages in highly populated regions like the Cape Town South Africa water crisis and Sydney Australia water shortages impacting millions of people.

Today 30% of the water in city pipes is being lost to leaks. Cities, burdened by burgeoning costs and declining revenues, are forced to deal with aged existing infrastructures that include pipe corrosion and water filtration.

The time has come for change in how we treat water conservation, leveraging technologies such as IoT and smart water meters, to help with water initiatives.

AWWA estimates that infrastructure upgrades and adoption of new technologies will exceed $1.7 trillion in the US alone by 2050 to address replacement needs and population growth, but the decision to act on this investment cannot be dependent on ROI but need to change.

Forward-thinking towns and cities are leveraging IoT technology to emerge as smart cities. What each have in common is the intelligent use of integrated solutions and a common set of goals to improve city infrastructure, create more efficient and cost effective municipal services, and keep citizens safe and more engaged in the community.

Companies like Itron are currently developing water main leak detection systems. In the not distant future, augmented reality will play a larger part in these answers, offering a literal view into real-time operating conditions, and the location of pipes and leaks under our streets.

Water companies need to act now to adopt these new strategies….or we all need to get a dog.

To learn more, come visit SAP at the European Utility Week booth A.h80 in Vienna Austria November 6-8, 2018.

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