Over 50% of the world’s population currently lives in urban areas, and, according to the United Nations’ Department of Economic and Social Affairs, it will reach 66% by 2050. The need for water intensifies as the population grows and standards of living increase. However, water is also increasingly required for various industries – from farming to manufacturing.
City authorities are aware of the necessity for clean water in populous urban areas, and have started to look to technology to reduce clean water wastage; and Wrocław in Southern Poland, is leading by example. The length of Wrocław’s water supply system is currently 1970km long, and is constantly increasing as new residential areas are built.
Unfortunately, in terms of water leakages, Wrocław was above average for Europe. Complex ‘hidden leakages’ meant that Wrocław’s Municipal Water and Sewerage Company (MPWiK) was unable to effectively monitor and repair faults, which generated losses of about 15 thousand cubic metres of water every 24 hours. However, Wrocław’s failing water system was eventually improved, after MPWiK teamed up with Microsoft and Future Processing in 2015 to develop SmartFlow – a system which would tackle the problem of hidden leakages.
SmartFlow is a tool for intelligent management of water supply networks, which collects data from sensors built into the waterworks and transmits real-time information about water distribution. The data is then analysed and processed and any irregularities are displayed on the map. However, the most important measurements take place at night when water usage is at its lowest.
The system monitors the parameters of the waterworks infrastructure and informs MPWiK about any abnormalities that arise. If a fault is detected, the system visualises the location of the fault on the map of Wrocław, making it easier for the company’s engineers to locate and repair it. With SmartFlow, the detection of abnormalities on water supply network takes MPWiK three days, an incredible improvement from the 180 days it used to take.
Over 100 sensors have been fitted into Wrocław’s waterworks to monitor the amount (and pressure) of water flowing under the city. The solution enabled Wrocław to save 500 million litres of water in 2016 alone, helping the city to climb the ranking of water wastage in Europe.
The management and analysis of water supply is an important component in the making of a Smart City – one that in a natural way adjusts to the needs of its inhabitants, improving their standards and comfort of living using the latest technology. Water solutions, like the one implemented in Wroclaw, are the way forward for cities which care about the wellbeing of its citizens, the care for the environment, and the costs associated with the losses.