Why you need smart monitoring for proactive water management

How smart technology can help you to overcome the limitations of manual monitoring and achieve intelligence-led water management.

Smart monitoring gives those who design, build or operate water management projects a way to make sure that these projects perform as designed. Ensuring performance can be crucial, as many water management projects are designed to prevent events from happening. For example, they may aim to prevent flooding or ensure that pollutants are not discharged into the environment.

What makes monitoring smart?

There are all sorts of monitoring devices used in water management, measuring water quantity (rainfall, water levels, flow rates) and quality (turbidity, dissolved oxygen, pH and nutrient concentrations). More advanced smart monitoring systems take measurements automatically, record information and transmit the data off-site to a web browser, perhaps triggering an alarm condition and related warnings such as SMS or e-mail alerts.

Smart monitoring systems such as these are able to transmit near real-time data with relative ease, as long as there is a data connection. This provides a means to transmit data about:

  • The rain falling in a catchment
  • The water levels upstream of a flood control structure or device
  • The turbidity of the water downstream of a surface water treatment system

In this way the owner of a site, or whoever is responsible for managing it, can obtain a visual representation of what is happening and make a decision on whether any action is needed.

How can smart monitoring influence decisions?

The information provided to the owner or end user depends on how the smart monitoring system has been set up. They may see a summary of the rainfall at the site throughout the previous three months, which will inform whether a maintenance visit is needed, perhaps with a view to checking for the accumulation of litter around a surface treatment structure following a major rainfall event; or they may get to see near real-time information about the amount of pollution present in water, which provides an indication about whether a stormwater treatment device or feature may be in need of maintenance.

Why is smart monitoring more beneficial than conventional methods?

Traditional monitoring relies on manual approaches. Typically this means a field operative visits a site to carry out an inspection, take a sample, or collect recordings from a monitoring device. These visits are generally made according to set schedules, or perhaps in response to some kind of alarm having been triggered. In a worst case scenario, these visits happen after the event has already occurred and the damage has been done.

By contrast, smart monitoring systems allow for a much more proactive approach to water management. Some site visits will still be needed - either to maintain the project infrastructure, to respond to incidents or emergencies, or to maintain the monitoring equipment - but smart monitoring provides accurate information that allows these visits to be reduced and streamlined. At a time when there is pressure on budgets, this reduces costs and helps ensure field teams spend their time more productively.

Since site visits can be better timed to respond to any unwanted change in the performance of an installation, smart monitoring can help avoid damage or excessive wear and tear to the water management infrastructure.

Conclusion

Ultimately smart monitoring allows for a proactive approach that reduces the chance of the project or installation failing to perform as designed. There is a cost associated with implementing smart monitoring, but when offset against the risk of system underperformance or failure, and the consequent cost linked to flood damages and fines for breaching discharge consent, makes smart monitoring a wise investment.

Takeaways

Smart monitoring can create efficiencies and financial savings when it comes to site visits.

Smart monitoring systems can deliver a reliable, accurate and near real-time picture of what’s happening in a site, in comparison to periodic visits that only provide a snapshot.

Smart monitoring gives users and owners extensive data about a site, which can help to prevent potential site failures and associated costs.

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