How smart tech is solving Thiruvananthapuram's big water problem

Fri, 2014-09-26 06:00 -- Liz Enbysk

Aging pipes, leaking infrastructure and water losses approaching 45% have made it challenging for the water authority serving the 3.3 million people in the Indian city of Thiruvananthapuram to make water distribution fair and equitable.

The huge water losses the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) has experienced are a result of water unaccounted for or wasted due to leakages. But there are other challenges too:

    • Without systems in place to monitor and provide real-time visibility into water consumption, it was difficult to track the performance of water treatment facilities and the effectiveness of the water supply network.
    • Revenue collection was also a challenge for KWA as its billing system was unable to accurately track water consumption by consumers.

Smart technologies in action
The problem of equitable water distribution to Thiruvananthapuram's 210,000 households is not unique; water utilities around the world struggle with unaccounted for and non-revenue water loss. Yet it's a perfect example of a problem that smart technologies can solve.

KWA is working with Council Lead Partner IBM to put set up the necessary infrastructure, monitoring and analytics that will help water system operators identify potential issues proactively. With the analytics and mobility solutions from IBM, KWA aims to achieve 100% success in equitable water supply with the ability to monitor and flag irregularities in water usage using sensors and intelligent meters.

How does it work?
IBM will help KWA establish a Water Management Center using the IBM Intelligent Water Software. The idea is to bring all the distribution and consumption data from water meters to a central dashboard where usage can be effectively and predictively monitored and managed. This gives KWA operators a unified and real time view of the transmission and consumption of water across Thiruvananthapuram.

Here's an example: When water officials see spikes or other changes in usage, the system alert engineers immediately. Smart sensors working in conjunction with the IBM software enable them to receive alerts through their mobile, smart devices or laptops so they can respond in near real time. That way KWA is able to react immediately to irregularities in water supply and make any necessary repairs in a much shorter timeframe.

India's focus on smarter cities
IBM sees the increased focus on smarter cities by the government of India as an opportunity to use its proven capabilities to make people's lives better.

"With the rapidly growing population, it is becoming more essential than ever for us to conserve water. We are happy to have partnered with KWA to provide them the power of analytics and mobility and help them transform the water distribution and management systems in Thiruvananthapuram in an effort to help make it a smarter city,” said Prashant Pradhan, Director of Smarter Planet Solutions for IBM India/South Asia.

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This article is from the Council's Compassionate Cities initiative which highlights how city leaders and other stakeholders can leverage smart technologies to end suffering in their communities and give all citizens a route out of poverty. Click the Compassionate Cities box on our registration page to receive our weekly newsletter.

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