It’s not just water that flows through our pipes and taps every day – invaluable data is steadily flowing alongside it. Many of the inefficiencies of current-generation water utility systems are now steadily being addressed through the use of AI-based analytical systems empowered by IoT sensors, a combination powerful enough to continuously track, predict and respond to water demand levels in the most effective and sustainable manner possible.
Increasingly referred to as ‘smart water management’ or just ‘digital water’, such systems place AI at the heart of a new way of managing water. The system’s raw processing power effectively analyses everything that’s happening across the system, while its machine learning elements allow it to continually improve its understanding of how best to respond. With AI in the picture, governments and utility providers can build and deliver water infrastructure that is overseen by an all-seeing management solution that never tires and can constantly adapt its approach to any given situation or contingency.
By finally seeing every part of the bigger picture, such systems can significantly improve the cost-effectiveness and sustainability of ongoing water operations. Already, pilot projects are showcasing the potential of this approach, as recently shown by Silo.AI and Ramboll. Their pilot system was built on top of pre-existing IoT infrastructure to optimise day-to-day water utility operations while preventing unwelcome surprises and potential accidents. Their next step envisages the creation of Human-in-the-loop AI systems, where the AI elements handle the data processing work and subsequently free up the human operators to concentrate on more cognitive tasks, such as validating and expounding on the AI system’s analysis.
This approach applies to water treatment as well as supply operations. Recently, the Australian water utility Melbourne Water revealed the success of the trialling of its AI platform which calibrates the optimal usage of its pumps without the need for human intervention or oversight. The pilot programme suggests that the system can help its parent company achieve energy cost savings of over 20%.