By Nathan To (Davra Networks Intern).
California is in the midst of a historic drought. 4 years of below average rainfall has strained the state’s water supplies. As a result, the state is scrambling for new ways to conserve water. Traditional methods of conservation such as mandatory rationing and citing violators can only go so far in the state’s conservation efforts. Installing smart water meters in homes and businesses1, integrating smart sensors in water mains and pipes2, as well as the implementation of smart irrigation systems3 leveraging Internet of Things (IoT) technology can allow a new frontier to be opened in water conservation.
Smart Water Meters: Most cities across the world are still using analog meters to measure water usage in homes and business. Although these meters have been in use for long periods of times, these meters are unable to report water usage to the water authorities or to the owners of the residence or business as they lack connectivity. When owners want to check their water usage, they have to go and read the meters themselves. Similarly, the water authorities have to go out to the home or business and read the meter at the end of the billing cycle. Connected smart meters leveraging IoT technology can not only enable owners to view their water usage more easily, but smart meters can also send immediate alerts to home or business owners if they are using too much water. Owners of homes and businesses will no longer have to wait for the end of the billing cycle to be notified. Similarly, smart meters will also be able to notify the water authorities immediately if the meter detects that an owner is wasting water. This will allow the water authorities to intervene immediately when they are notified of a violator.
Smart Water Sensors: In almost every building, a maze of pipes exist in them that are hidden from view. These pipes carry fresh water into the building and take the waste out. As these pipes are hidden from view, it is often difficult to detect leaks and often when a leak is detected, the pipe has probably already been leaking for some time. Smart connected sensors that are integrated into the maze of pipes in almost every building can enable immediate detection of leaks that are unseen to the human eye5. If a sensor detects water flowage when no water using appliances are running, the sensor can then send an alert to the owner of the building. The owner can then make the necessary repairs. Further, the owner will be able to pinpoint the exact location of the leak based on the sensor’s location.
Smart Irrigation Systems: Irrigation of crops and ornamental plants contributes to over 80% of all water usage in California6. As irrigation is the single largest use of water in California, a massive push needs to be made to reduce that percentage while maintaining current production levels. Although the state has taken steps to reduce water used by irrigation, smart irrigation systems leveraging IoT technology can enable the state to conservation to reach a new level7. Smart connected sensors that are connected to smart sprinklers leveraging IoT technology will enable just the right amount of water needed for plants to flourish. The smart sensors are embedded in the soil that measures the moisture levels. The sensors then relay this information to the smart sprinkler system and the sprinklers add just the right amount of water.
Conclusion: Traditional methods of conservation have been implemented to conserve water. Unfortunately, these methods can only go so far in conserving what is left of California’s meager water supply due to various limitations. Smart devices leveraging IoT technology is the answer to taking water conservation to a new level. IoT technology will enable smart water meters, sensors, and irrigation systems to be deployed in homes and businesses with ease. As California’s water supplies dwindle, IoT technology can help conserve what is left.
1. Kar, Saroj. “The Internet of Things and water conservation: Coping with nature with big data
And sensors.” Silicon Angle. March. 3, 2014.
2. Kar, Saroj.
3. Goldstein, Taylor. “Smart Water Meters a ‘Critical Tool’ in California.” Los Angeles Times.
May. 5, 2015.
4. Finley, Klint. “Smart Meters Snitch on Water Wasters in a Drought.” Wired. June. 15, 2015.
5. Kar, Saroj.
6. Guo, Jeff. “Agriculture is 80% of water use in California; why aren’t farmers being forced to
Cut back?” Washington Post. April, 3. N.Y.
7. Terdiman, Daniel. “The Internet of Things sprouts in the garden.” CNET. June. 5, 2015.
About The Author:
Nathan To is currently an Intern at Davra Networks. He will be a sophomore at the University of California Riverside in the fall where he is majoring in Business. In the past, Nathan was one of the leaders of his High School’s student iPad repair group. He has also moderated a panel on Student Experiences with Educational Technology at the annual Educational Learning Technology Consortium (ETLC) in Atherton CA.