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Cities Explore Ways To Get Smarter About Water 19 December 2016

 

Cities Explore Ways To Get Smarter About Water

“It takes a lot of water to make electricity and it takes a lot of electricity to pump, move and now, recycle and reuse water.”

Cities have the potential to become a lot smarter when it comes to water infrastructure, according to experts at a conference organized by the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge, which is part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The blog PlanetSave documented the “smart water” discussions that occurred at the conference. The experts examined the most urgent issues regarding water infrastructure.

“The most critical water issues relate to improving the fundamental components of urban water systems. Most cities cannot identify the location of underground pipes, as they were laid so long ago cities do not know where they are. As a result, mapping them is quite difficult,” the report said.

“Then there’s the process of ‘instrumenting’ the pipes, or adding digital markers to the pipes and the water within them so they can tracked, analyzed, and repaired as necessary. Estimates say that it may cost around $384 billion to upgrade the U.S. water infrastructure, with numbers likely to increase given the stressors from increasing population, climate change, and water pollution,” the report continued.

Experts at the conference said that smart technology can help cities become more effective in confronting the “water-energy nexus,” a term that refers to that fact that “it takes a lot of water to make electricity and it takes a lot of electricity to pump, move and now, recycle and reuse water,” News Deeply reported.

Despite the importance of smart city planning, sometimes key stakeholders are left out of the discussion. According to experts at Black & Veatch, an engineering services and consulting business, water utilities are sometimes on the sidelines of the conversation.

“Across the United States, smart city programs are moving beyond press releases, pilot programs, and demonstrations. Municipalities are collaborating with industry and utilities to create roadmaps defining their approach to regional integrated smart infrastructure,” the company’s Strategic Directions: Water Industry Report for 2016 said.

“Proactive utilities, for their part, benefit from pushing for smart city programs in ways that align with their strategic goals and investment plans. Water utilities, however, are lagging in the planning process, and risk losing their seat at the table with electric and gas utility peer companies as the smart city programs advance,” the report said.

What’s an example of a smart city project? The report points to utilities in drought-prone areas that have deployed advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) to foster customer conservation. AMI, the report said, is one component of the smart city.

 

Image credit: "city," reynermedia © 2006, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Posted: 19 December 2016