Technology, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), can be a part of the solution to better water management to ensure responsible water use and no waste, says access network infrastructure provider Ruckus Networks sub-Saharan Africa sales director Riaan Graham.
IoT is readily available and can be used to apply water management systems, including monitoring use, pinpointing leaks and curbing excessive use.
He says water meters can be Internet Protocol-enabled and become intelligent devices that can connect to the Internet. WiFi is typically an ideal technology to connect meters to a network, which, for example, allows for the management and monitoring of water levels and flows.
“This gives you much more visibility which, in turn, enables you to make informed and proactive decisions. Should there be water flow constraints in a certain area or section of the infrastructure, you would have a much more calculated remedy for the issue and be able to expedite expert engineers that already know what the status is.”
Graham further explains that IoT probes connected to water flow meters will constantly send a low bandwidth signal across the WiFi infrastructure to the control centre, which can, for example, accumulate a history of the typical water flow. Based on the fluctuation of the water flow, the system could be set to trigger alarms for further investigation.
In addition to Southern Africa being a water scarce territory, a significant percentage of water supply in South Africa is also lost in the distribution system, he notes. Graham attributes this to a lack of not only maintenance, but also proper management and monitoring environments built into the infrastructure.
A passive approach is taken to fix problems, which means that millions of litres could be lost before anyone is notified about a leak, he adds.
“If a fully automated system – in the sense that it is controlled and monitored – is implemented, you would have visibility much sooner and save much more water.”