Water Journal : Current August 2017
www.awa.asn.au 31 THE INTERNET OF SEWERS Wastewater infrastructure can be particularly vulnerable, whether from rainfall ingress and surcharging, or illegal access and blockages from wet wipes and fatbergs. South East Water (SEW) recently completed a trial of an IoT network in wastewater infrastructure to help address these vulnerabilities. Playfully dubbed the ‘Internet of Sewers’, the trial saw a range of small, IoT-style sensors deployed in manholes and elsewhere across SEW’s wastewater system, all of which were connected on an NB-IoT network rather than the traditional (and more expensive) 3G and 4G networks. With the advent of cheaper, battery-powered sensors, SEW was able to roll out an increased number of sensors. “By migrating from macro-level sensors that sit at just a few pumping stations to more prolific deployment across the network, we have a greater ability to predict and prevent issues across the network,” said Phil Johnson, SEW’s corporate and commercial general manager. The system uses a range of various sensors that can detect flow, wastewater levels and even hydrogen sulphide levels. The narrow bandwidth of the network technologies used for IoT make it particularly applicable to wastewater. “ Sewer networks and devices are often deployed underground, under manholes and metal covers. The greater ground penetration of these new networks means we can pick up the signals that we need,” Johnson said. Before the trial, Johnson said SEW would have had sensors on a couple hund red of an estimated 100,000 manhole covers. With the success of the trial, they’re looking at scaling that up dramatically. “We wouldn’t put it on all of them, but we’re potentially looking at putting sensors on a quarter of them, if the price point is right and we can still generate value for customers,” he said. trial [see box at right]. During another trial in late 2016, the company installed a handful of narrow band communication smart meters at individual houses to monitor flow, water temperature, pressure and acoustic signals. Johnson said integrating these data points into a software system meant SEW could change its maintenance program. “Using analytics and multiple data points, we can predict potential issues and move to preventative rather than reactive repairs,” he said. Sydney Water has taken steps to join the network as well. They recently installed a system of acoustic sensors that they expect to move to an IoT platform soon. Another example is SA Water, which recently installed hundreds of sensors in Adelaide’s CBD to improve real-time understanding of its network. The City of Wollongong has rolled out a free-to-air IoT network using LoRaWAN across the region, in partnership with Meshed. The area is prone to flooding, so part of the network is focused in stormwater drainage. “We have extended real-time monitoring of water flows and levels by integrating AI with photography to monitor debris,” said Caruana-McManus. Beyond the coast, Taggle has installed IoT networks for more than 20 rural and regional councils, including GWM Water in Victoria, Mackay Regional Council in Queensland and Goldenfields Water in NSW [see box at bottom left]. EYE IN THE SKY Although SEW manually monitors pipe integrity by feeding cameras down [THE IOT] LETS US OPTIMISE INFRASTRUCTURE, FOCUS ON CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE AND RESPOND TO CLIMATE CHANGE. CATHERINE CARUANA- MCMANUS, MESHED pipelines to check for damage, that data is fed into an AI system that uses machine learning to independently process – and learn from – hundreds of hours of pipe footage to identify problem areas. Johnson said he sees the future potential for automation and the use of smart, IoT enabled drones to capture this footage. “As the cost of devices comes down to almost the throw-away level, you could easily put a disposable recording device through the asset network to capture images,” he said. Drones are already being used as a part of the water network at the Port Macquarie-Hastings Council in NSW. Previously, the council had to rely on 12-month-old satellite imagery for some remote assets. However, the recent acquisition of two aerial drones for survey work could potentially revolutionise how the Council conducts water asset inspections in the future, said Design Manager Rowan Howarth.
Current May 2017