Lots of discussion on smart grid is focusing on energy today, government subsidies and R&D ecosystems come from different industry associations and tech provider ecosystems. Water has received less attention despite the world economic forum had published its 2013 risk report that clearly states challenges in water supply overall as one of the large economic and social risk factors.
In urbanization and smart cities, water management is no longer an operations issue of managing physical infrastructure, but rather how assets in the water network’s hydrological cycle function together. The cost of water as a fresh water resource does not include the holistic cost of the hydrological cycle today, so low water cost is taken in many countries by consumers and businesses for granted. Regulators have taken steps to build water specific blueprints such as by the European Commission’s DC Connect Sustainability, to evaluate guidelines for EU policy on waterways and river basins, on challenges of water scarcity and droughts as well as a safeguard for water resources. Therefore, many technology and service providers (TSPs) that compete in the electricity grid and utility space have slowly started to apply their know-how on water utilities and water intensive users in cities.
The mix in public governance of fresh water and waste water companies as well as outsourced partnerships designed to manage rainwater run offs and watersheds, make the exchange of performance metrics of grid and water levels quite difficult. Environmental management solutions that include water as a resource can identify the priorities of water related metrics for efficiency and velocity in different systems and by different users, including datacenters, buildings and public facilities. According to Gartner’s research on water management solutions, there is an increasing number of analytics and information related management systems that are standardized to include environmental metrics allowing the modeling of water flows and consumption patterns and enable real time water distribution and information ecosystems in smart cities.
Water analytics companies such as Kisters and Seams are joining large IT and OT systems providers such as IBM, GE and others to build comprehensive solutions to understand the performance quality and threats of todays’ and tomorrows’ water supply. Analytics that take data points from different sensor s and feed it back into data and information management systems can identify water velocity, loss of water pressure and excessive consumption because of transportation and distribution architecture. Especially in urban environment, understanding and displaying consumption patterns as well as management of natural water threats will become key function of centralized resource management and city operations.