Intelligent Assets Drives AI for Water Infrastructure By Aaron Allsbrook
July 13, 2021
Clean water delivered directly to our homes and businesses has become essential to all of our lives. It’s nearly impossible to imagine waking up to brush our teeth, long drinks at water fountains, or hot showers just before bed without the running water we take for granted every day. Underneath this valuable resource that makes our lives so simple is a utility infrastructure that cleans and sends water directly to us. It is available at any time and easily billed to us for just the amount we use. This important system delivered so simply to us is not without complexities.
Today as populations grow throughout the world we have overused our water supplies to the point we put our daily systems at risk and paint an unsustainable future. Our ability to protect, reuse, and be efficient with water is critical to the success of our future generations. The system that works so reliably delivering water to our sinks is not without flaws. Even in the United State where systems are some of the most efficient, it’s estimated that 20% of all clean water is lost to leaks and theft. In other parts of the world, it’s not uncommon to see up to 60% losses of clean water. How will the world take its water utility infrastructure to the next level? How will we reduce these massive losses? How will we make sure there is water for years to come in our growing cities?
Our water utilities are not starting from zero
Whether it was Roman aqueducts or the London sewer system, city engineers have been working to build the best infrastructure possible for hundreds of years. Today most water utilities have some level water main monitoring. These systems are often using computer technology for the last 10 or 20 years to measure pressures and flow rates. Additionally, those civil engineers have been carefully documenting their infrastructure in the form of GIS and databases. Cataloging exactly where pipes, materials, and composites are placed and what type of home or business connections are on the other end. The databases also get filled with years of consumption information for the study on how we use our water. Lastly, there is a team in the field constantly maintaining pipes, repairing leaks, and deploying a new network that all have their work scheduled and documented. In general, most water utility services are rich with data about their networks.
Emerging point solutions
The opportunity to save lost water means that there are many new offerings to capture that ROI. These compelling point solutions help address different parts of the challenge. Whether it’s a network of mesh sensors listening for leaks or drones flying overhead with AI vision to see leaks, they are all focused on generating new datasets that better identify issues. New technologies have always been part of making our systems better but these new tools often don’t reach back into the overall operational behavior of the utility itself. How the leaks communicated, how is the work performed, how is the repair validated? With each new technology, we must learn how to integrate it into our operations.
Intelligent Assets for Water Utility Infrastructure
ClearBlade Intelligent Assets is now being deployed across water utilities to find and repair leaks. Intelligent Assets is ideal for any utility thanks to its ability to use already available data from the existing sensors and feeds to provide a better understanding. A coherent picture is made from OSIPi data with repair work orders, monthly connection readings, and GIS pipe information to make for a cost-effective and rapidly deployed offering. AI algorithms built into the application and designed to be constantly trained to allow for high accuracy at predicting leaks and prioritizing targeted utility maintenance work to stop water loss. The focus on producing simple reports for operation users to see in their existing tools like email or Microsoft Teams reduces training and adoption times. Finally, the overall application dashboard allows for ROI to be understood with a holistic view of the entire network. Huge data sets are turned into well-understood actionable tasks.
Intelligent Assets’ ability to focus on the operator as they do their job by giving them better data directly in their day-to-day workflow produces results. The AI algorithm watching the flows across all water mains by the second means that the time to identify a leak has dropped from weeks to hours. The intelligence to see the historical performance of the network means that with 85% accuracy we can predict which pipes are going to leak in the future. This approach of using existing systems and data and then providing key understandings directly to operational workers results in unparalleled ROI and immediate to time to value.
Intelligent Assets is ready out of the box to start helping your water utility find leaks now.