How Tech Innovation Is Bringing Water Distribution Into The 21st Century

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For the last 60 or so years, the delivery of mains water has been developed along traditional engineering management lines. Systems of reservoirs, freshwater sources, treatment plants and distribution networks have not evolved too far beyond their Victorian origins. This is all beginning to change. With entry into the networked age well and truly confirmed, water system developers have started to apply state of the art smart technology to their systems engineering ideas. 

Water distribution and provision are changing, and these are the technologies providing the catalyst. When looking to compare water suppliers for businesses, you’ll need to take a deep dive into the plans for modernization that each company offers. 

The Smart Water Grid 

One of the great challenges for water utility providers has always been identifying where there are problems in the system before something goes wrong. Smart water grid systems include monitoring technology that feeds information back to a central control hub. This allows technicians to deal with hiccups and failures before people get their water cut off. This is an especially important technological advance in highly urbanized areas, where a single fault can mean that hundreds if not thousands of homes and businesses will be deprived of water. Water shortages have historically led to the spread of diseases like cholera in large, crowded cities. 

The crowded trade hub nation of Singapore has installed a high tech smart water grid. It supplies the city with 430 million gallons of clean water every day and has been a resounding success – repairs are far more timely and less disruptive than they would be with a traditional system. 

The Internet Of Things 

In the tech world, you can’t read a single article without encountering the phrase ‘internet of things’. Essentially, the internet of things is a way of describing networked objects. Networked objects are able to communicate with each other in order to improve functionality. In a water utility context, this means that a distribution network can ‘learn’ where the most demand is in an area and adjust distribution accordingly. The use of IOT technology in the water industry is a major disruptor – shaking up the field by allowing innovative companies willing to adopt this new tech to run far more efficient services than their rivals. 


Taking that concept a step further, some engineers have proposed using AI to give water distribution networks the ability to improve themselves with minimal human involvement. Using machine learning and big data analysis, an algorithmically ‘intelligent’ water distribution network could optimize operations automatically. This would mean that a system could be future-proofed. Of course, this concept would be an incredibly drastic departure from commonly upheld protocols. Water an absolutely essential resource for human life and welfare, so some people have understandable reservations about the transfer of power over water away from human beings. Nevertheless, it seems that AI will be used to some degree in the water distribution networks of the future.

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