Water and Process Group, Thingswise, LLC and Chinese Academy of Information and Communication Technologies (CAICT)
Public Utilities, Critical Infrastructures and Local Governments
Water, after air, is the second most critical natural resource our lives depend upon. Maintaining adequate clean and safe water supply to urban residents has become ever-challenging. This is especially so under the pressure from the rapid urbanization of the populations in developing countries and increasingly severe constraints of available water resources in many parts of the world. The situation is exacerbated by the inadequate and aging equipment deployed in the water supply infrastructure and the ineffectiveness in the management of the operations of the equipment. The consequence of these conditions impacts to the health and quality of lives of millions of urban residents.
The prevailing conditions in the urban water supply systems include:
- Safety: Inability to timely detect water quality issues that may lead to health problems
- Service Availability: Inability to detect, address and prevent, on a timely basis, operational issues that cause unnecessary service outages
- Efficiency: Inability to assess and identify water leakages, and to identify and address energy over-consumption in heavy operational assets (e.g. water-pressurizing bumps), both leading to wastefulness of valuable resources and in the latter case negatively impacting the environment
- Effectiveness: Inability to optimize the operation of a group of water-pressuring pumps to provide equitable water supply and to avoid equipment damages under these conditions.
This testbed builds an Intelligent Urban Water Supply Management Cloud Service that provides a fully integrated multi-function, multi-service, multi-role, multi-tenant solution. The important benefit of building a cloud service for this purpose is to take advantage of economies of scale, avoiding repeatedly building many independent systems across the country offering almost identical functions. By lowering the cost, it will make it much more feasible for the largest number of city water supply authorities to take the advantage of what the Industrial Internet has to offer in their water supply operations at the earliest time.
In the core of this cloud service platform, a number of key solutions are offered to urban water supply authorities and management companies to:
- Increase safety and quality of the water supply by employing system-wide water quality monitoring, supported by analytics, to raise water quality issues & identify sources of degradation.
- Improve availability of the water supply by employing advanced asset maintenance capabilities with real-time monitoring, fault detection and preventive maintenance to improve water supply asset reliability.
- Enhance efficiency of water supply operations by employing advanced analytics on water supply asset operational data to reduce asset energy consumption, detect water leakage and optimize system-wide water distribution during peak usage hours or under shortage in supply.
HOW IT WORKS:
The testbed deploys IoT gateways to securely connect the water supply asset (e.g. pressurizing pumps) to the cloud service platform where advanced analytics are applied to the operational data communicated from the assets. The operational insight obtained from the analytics are used to drive the water supply domain applications to monitor and provide advanced maintenance capability, monitor water quality, detect water leakages, reduce energy consumption of pressurizing pumps and ensure equitable water distributions to the points of consumption during water peak usage hours and water supply shortages.
Through the application of Industrial Internet ideas and technology in the water supply industrial sector, this testbed offers a series of advanced water supply management capabilities and new functionalities to urban water management authorities and companies to ensure water supply quality, and reliability, lower energy consumption, reduce water leakages and enhance operational efficiency at an affordable cost. By doing so, this testbed explores feasible approaches for aligning the interests of multiple stakeholders involved in the water supply ecosystem to enable a service-oriented business model in the water supply industrial sector.
To connect the smart assets and to establish the services and applications in the cloud services, there are a number of business and technical challenges as outlined below, all of which, except for the tenant scalability, will be explored and experimented to various degrees in this testbed.
- Business Models: There are many different stakeholders involved – what business models will be most effective in aligning their interests to use the new water supply management toolset and to support the new business models?
- Brown Field Assets: There are large amount of deployed assets in the field, many of them are already industrial control systems (e.g. SCADA) – how to enable connectivity to these assets to bring them online securely?
- On-Customer-Premises Assets: There are large amounts of assets (e.g. water-pressurizing pumps) deployed in customer premises (e.g. the pump room in the basements of high-rise residential buildings) – how to maintain the connectivity from the assets to the cloud without substantial recurring expenses?
- Field-Deployed Assets: There are many assets deployed in the field (e.g. vaults, meters and instruments) – how to connect them to the system without introducing vulnerability and substantial recurring expenses on connectivity?
- Diverse Business Systems to Integrate: The cloud services need to seamlessly integrate to various business information systems from various stakeholders to enable end-to-end functionalities – how to achieve that without incurring large development and on-going support costs?
- Scalability: The cloud service will eventually support 665 cities (tenants), each with a dozen or more roles, scores of equipment vendors, thousands of property management firms, tens of thousands of human users, hundreds of thousands deployed assets and potentially millions of consumers as users of a public water supply information system.
- Analytics: Many of the data analysis requires advanced analytics and physical model building including employing a combination of modeled physical systems and simulation. How to effectively develop, validate and apply these models in applications is a nascent subject matter in this market segment. The testbed will explore this area as needed to realize its core functional objectives, such as in water quality modeling in a pipeline network, automatic fault detection, predictive maintenance, energy consumption assessment, etc.
The testbed will progress over 5 phases testing out six usage scenarios and one evaluation on a new market validation and impact of a new business model over one and half years.
The testbed is being deployed in Qinzhou City with a population approximately 3.8 million (based on 2010 census) in the province of Guangxi of China. It is possible through collaboration and support from the Qinzhou City Water Management Authority.
Interested in learning more about the Urban Water Supply Testbed? Email us!