IoT - Make the Right Decisions at the Right Time

Echologics is one of several water-industry companies collaborating closely with Bell Canada to create and launch integrated IoT-based solutions for deployment by water utilities. Data gathered by Echologics sensors and automated devices communicating through Bell’s planned low-power LTE-M wireless networks are processed by enterprise-grade data aggregation and reporting software, enabling utilities to boost operational efficiencies, cut costs, and deliver improved service to customers.

A few years from now, a wireless-enabled acoustic sensor installed in a fire hydrant will detect the sound of a developing water main leak and transmit a data packet to a cloud based server. Once uploaded, specialized data-aggregation software will analyze the leak-detection data and send alerts to the local water utility. However, instead of immediately dispatching field crews to excavate and assess the pipe leak, the utility will do — nothing.

Why? The utility’s future “Internet of Things” (IoT) based water-infrastructure management system will automatically collect and assess data from a vast array of “smart” sensors monitoring the water distribution network, delivering the vital information the utility needs to make the right decisions at the right time.

Continuously monitoring the progress and size of the leak, the future IoT system could cross-check the utility’s maintenance schedule and operating budget with links to other regional public agencies. This would enable the utility to delay costly pipeline repairs to coincide with planned road construction occurring next to the identified leak location — a textbook example of how the availability of real-time field data can help optimize and automate all aspects of utility operations.

“Monitoring and coordinating all aspects of municipal services is the ultimate goal of IoT,” says Eric Stacey, an Echologics product manager involved with developing IoT-based water infrastructure management solutions. Harnessing Internet-connected sensors and devices using low-power wireless technologies enables the company’s EchoShore® leak detection platform to achieve system efficiencies with remote monitoring and management of large water distribution systems.

“Aside from the extraordinary technologies involved with IoT’s machine-to-machine communications, the real benefits are things that only humans can appreciate,” says Stewart Day, Echologics client manager for Canada. “Instead of the client struggling to manually obtain vital infrastructure data over long periods of time, an IoT system can automatically collect all the data available and deliver it directly to the client. Further, the automated nature of an IoT-based infrastructure and asset management system frees utility staff and management to focus on the larger issues that challenge the future of the water industry.”