- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 17 Apr 2019
Water infrastructure is often overlooked when smart cities are considered or discussed. This seems strange when water services are so crucial for human health and well-being. But water is often seen as an invisible utility that’s taken for granted. The industry has also been slow to harness the power of new technology.
Smart meters are already widely used to manage demand in domestic energy. But there is also solid evidence that the same kind of meters could dramatically curb domestic water use. The uptake of domestic metering by the water industry lags behind the energy sector, but this is changing.
Thames Water for example, Britain’s biggest water company, would face a supply shortfall of 133 million litres per day by 2020 (enough water to supply the city of Liverpool for 24 hours), or even 414 million litres per day by 2040 (enough for Newcastle, Sheffield and Liverpool together), if the trend for increased demand continues.
As a result, they have embarked on a smart metering installation programme that will see 414,000 smart water meters installed in London by 2020. By 2025, they will be dealing with 35 billion hourly meter reads every year.
Extracting useful information on water consumption from such vast amounts of data is not easy. One system, iWIDGET aims to analyse usage patterns of individual households. It then presents results, comparisons and feedback, providing households with information about their water consumption. It offers highly customised suggestions on how to reduce use and get better value for money.
Nobody likes to be caught in a flood – especially not a flood from a sewer. Reliable information about the likelihood, the extent and the location of such flooding in a city, is very valuable, but current detection methods can be slow and expensive.
Research has demonstrated the use of an alternative approach – Radar Pluvial flooding Identification for Drainage System(RAPIDS). Instead of detecting it actually predicts flooding in sewer systems. It uses computer models to assess very large networks in real-time and raise alarm of sewer flooding. Results of that work, which was applied to three areas of the UK, shows much higher accuracy in predicting flooding.
 Hydroinformatics mixes technology with water
Smart sensors, artificial intelligence, big data analytics and cloud computing are finally becoming involved in managing water systems in cities. This is partly due to the emergence of new water industry leaders trained in hydroinformatics – mixing big data with smart technologies to deliver more sustainable water solutions.
But to keep the taps running the hydroinformaticians will need help. A new breed of specialist engineers and scientists is required to work across traditionally separate disciplines and manage the world’s water supply.
By 2045, an estimated 6 billion people will be living in cities. That means an enormous amount of showers flowing, toilets flushing, and sinks being filled. So in the meantime, we, and water systems, need to get even smarter.
This article was originally published here on 12 July 2017 by ICE. It was written by Dragan Savic FICE, Professor of Hydroinformatics, University of Exeter.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
RSHP's Terminal 5 named one of world's top airports in 2019.
Do we need a new land classification to spur development?
An architectural technologist in Germany.
3 World Trade Center designed by RSH+P
The struggle to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
What is 'agent of change' and who does it protect?
A consistent and measurable approach to home adaptation.
Acknowledging and challenging the realms and interpretations of heritage.
Embodied carbon in construction steel.
A prototype for assessing circularity in buildings.
New Wiki site is set to make BIM mainstream.
FMEA is a step-by-step approach for collecting knowledge about possible points of failure.
The various types and everything else.