The development and prosperity of smart cities is based on joint development of six major sectors, which are the cornerstone in defining a city as friendly, sustainable and livable for residents. These pillars are the “smart power”, “smart public services”, sustainable mobility, “smart buildings”, the “smart integration” and “smart water”.
Having as guideline the aforementioned sectors, while building smart cities, is vital for global growth but at the same time the economic, logistical and political challenges remain big. Discussions on the development of smart cities are dominated historically by perceptions focusing on analyzing “big data”, following a top-down, software-centric approach. However, when it comes to modernizing systems that are old, such as the water distribution or the electricity network, the advanced software and networking capabilities may well be necessary and fundamental, but if they are not combined with the renewal of infrastructure, will not be able to cause the necessary impact. Cities that fundamentally improve their systems and their infrastructure and achieve the integration of those with advanced technology, they are the ones who manage the smooth transition to the world of smart functions.
One of the most important parts of a city infrastructure which is of paramount importance for the welfare of citizens and the proper functioning of the urban network, is the water supply system. With the population of megacities constantly growing, it is inevitable that water consumption is also increased. The distribution and water management system of a city should be technologically robust, constantly developing and should be equipped with the ability to monitor and to network with other critical systems, so as to produce detailed information for analysis and evaluation. The term “Smart Water” refers to the effective management of water supply and sanitation systems, that ensure the supply of this precious commodity. An intelligent water management system is designed to collect substantial and actionable data on flow, pressure, quality and distribution of water of a city. Also ensures accurate and infallible record of consumption.
The benefits on the modernization of water management systems are numerous. Indicatively, there is a reduction in losses caused from leaks in water transport systems, extensive money savings, more rational allocation of this precious commodity and direct monitoring of the quality of water supplied to consumers. Without substituting periodical controls by the relevant bodies, the system administrators can monitor and evaluate key measurable water parameters, in real time, with the use of sensors. If any of those controlled parameters are exceeding permissible limits, the administrator is notified immediately so that it can proceed rapidly to the required actions.
Accordingly, the consumer is benefiting from a variety of digital services that coexist with “smart water systems” such as electronic water metering, electronic billing, e-payments, real time reporting of damages and system failures from the convenience of his home, registration and monitoring of requests, immediate information on service irregularities, display of statistics on water consumption and provision of advices and good practices for the efficient use of water.
Equally important are the benefits for operators’ / water providers since they save money (from the non-involvement of the operator with the measurement, processing, printing, sending and collection of accounts) they efficiently utilize their human resources (employees are no longer involved with the issue and collection of accounts that absorbs up to 90% of their time), they automate their processes, increase their collectability and have full and meaningful picture of the entire network (interconnection and interoperability with SCADA systems , financial management and human resources systems etc)