Smart Water Management: A Catalyst For Urban Sustainability

Category Engineering

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A new study conducted by Cristina Villar proposes a smart water management system based on an architecture with an action and measuring group and a secure, interference-free network. It uses NoSQL databases such as MongoDB and IoT technologies such as the NB-IoT protocol to improve the response time and secure the water supply chain.

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Drought and massive water leaks in the subsoil of large cities, such as those recently reported in the Barcelona metropolitan area, make it more necessary than ever to improve the management of water resources in urban environments. The implementation of smart, connected systems for water supply and purification infrastructures has clear benefits and will come with time. However, as the sector is currently wanting in digitalization, this transition must be agile and carefully monitored.

The study was carried out by Cristina Villar, a graduate at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC).

A new study has laid the foundations for how this process should be carried out. The brain behind it is Cristina Villar, a graduate of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) and an employee at one of Spain's top tech companies, where she designs digitalization and security solutions for multiple types of infrastructure. Carried out as a final project for the University Master's Degree in Telecommunications Engineering, the study examines what needs to happen for this renewal to take place and describes the network architecture and specific type of hardware required to secure the water supply chain, which is key considering that climate change and population growth are making this resource increasingly scarcer.

The study's goal is to improve the management of water resources in urban environments.

Villar, who is listed as the study's first author, said, "In water treatment and management, there is a considerable lack of development and standardization of digital protocols. Instead of creating a unique or inflexible design, we wanted to lay the foundations of operation to adapt this environment to the needs of Industry 4.0 and Spanish legislation." Her master's degree final project is published open access in the journal Smart Cities and was supervised by Victor Monzon Baeza, currently a researcher at the University of Luxembourg. Having achieved excellent results, the study was later published in MDPI Smart Cities as a research paper co-authored by Raúl Parada, researcher at the Telecommunications Technology Centre of Catalonia, and Carles Monzo, member of the UOC Faculty of Computer Science, Multimedia and Telecommunications.

The authors suggess using the NB-IoT protocol for on-site devices for optimal bandwidth efficiency.

--- A complex architecture --- .

In their view, the renewal of critical infrastructures linked to the water supply chain should be based on an architecture that includes an action and measuring group (a large array of on-site sensors) and an interference-free network to provide coverage and send data to the core computing group, the backbone of the proposed solution. This part of the system would be responsible for collecting all the data from the sensors and executing commands for the actuators. These commands could be entered manually by the operators in charge of maintaining the system or they could be automated to improve the response time of the water management system. All data would be stored in NoSQL databases such as MongoDB, ideally deployed on high availability servers located in private data processing centers (DPCs). These servers would be backed up and duplicated so that the system would remain up and running in the event of contingencies and would not suffer service outages. Such information could be extracted and studied through data analytics processors and uploaded to the cloud for further computation and the application of artificial intelligence. The authors propose adopting the NB-IoT protocol for on-site devices, as it ust enable a low cost system with optimal bandwidth efficiency.

The smart water management requires an architecture with an action and measuring group and an interference-free network.

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