The concept of the internet of things, known as IoT or connected networks is that any device should be able to connect to another device as well as to the internet. This connected network is possible due to the advancement in communications networks and device technologies.

Whilst the number of devices currently in use is hard to estimate, Gartner and other sources talk in the order of 30 billion devices in 2020.

IoT sensors can provide immediate benefit to water utilities that includes;

  • monitor water quality at various consumer end points in the network,
  • real-time IoT platforms with predictive analytics,
  • reducing electricity consumption in water and waste water treatment,
  • tracking the performance of pumps and their operational characteristics more efficiently.

Currently the number of sensors available is extensive and some of the categories include;

  • Flow
  • Force / Load / Torque / Strain / Pressure
  • Leaks / Levels
  • Electrical / Magnetic
  • Acceleration / Tilt
  • Machine Visions / Optical / Ambient Light
  • Position /Presence / Proximity
  • Motion / Velocity / Displacement
  • Temperature
  • Humidity / Moisture
  • Acoustic / Sound / Vibration
  • Chemical / Gas

The introduction of LPWAN has enabled IoT devices to be vendor lock free, removing one of the major hurdles that has existed.  LPWAN is also allowing devices to be installed at site without electricity and or traditional mobile coverage.

The installation of sensors through sewerage networks can ensure prior knowledge of surcharges and spills. There will be a strong environmental protection driver to engage in this technology immediately.

David Nixon has worked the water industry for over 30 years across a variety of utilities, engineering and business consultancies. David currently acts as director and advisor to a variety of organisations across Australia.