Bhopal, the capital city of Madhya Pradesh, is divided into 54 wards spread across an area of 296 square km. The provision of civic services in the city is managed by the Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC). For supplying water, the corporation primarily relies on two water sources – Upper Lake and the Kolar dam. These freshwater sources are fast depleting owing to increasing demand and inadequate rainfall. Leakages in water distribution pipelines have also resulted in freshwater wastage.
Until recently, BMC lacked the technology to accurately measure data on various parameters such as water flow, leakages and contamination leading to disruption in water supply. With the inclusion of Bhopal in the Smart Cities Mission, the corporation has now decided to adopt smart technologies to eliminate water wastage in the city. Bhopal Smart City Development Corporation Limited (BSCDCL), the special purpose vehicle incorporated for implementing the Bhopal smart city project, will deploy an information technology (IT)-based supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system in the city. The system will enable real-time monitoring of water consumption and flow, thereby improving service delivery. Bids for the project were invited in June 2018 and are yet to be awarded.
Smart water management in Bhopal
To curb freshwater wastage, BSCDCL will install an IT-enabled SCADA system in the city as part of the comprehensive Bhopal city water utility management system. The SCADA system will be integrated with a geographic information system (GIS) and a control centre for centralised data management. The project entails an estimated cost of Rs 500 million. As part of the project, tested software and equipment such as flow meters and sensors will be installed in as many as 145 elevated service reservoirs across the city to measure the flow of water. These will aid the civic agency in measuring the water consumption pattern of househ`olds, the water distribution pattern of the utility as well as water leakages. The data collected by the control centre will be analysed and daily reports will be generated on the quality and quantity of water. All water supply assets under BMC’s command area will be mapped using GIS technology and visualised through an online platform installed at the central control and command centre. The smart technology is expected to be operationalised by March 2019 and will enable the utility to track water wastage on a real-time basis.
The SCADA system will provide several benefits to BMC. It will enable the monitoring of water leakages and pilferage on a real-time basis, thus reducing the response time of BMC authorities. Timely information will reduce the downtime as immediate corrective measures will be taken by the supervisory staff, thereby improving customer satisfaction. The overflow of water will be completely eliminated and inflow-outflow and leakages at reservoirs will be controlled by raising timely alarms and automatically controlling flow valves. This will considerably reduce the level of unaccounted-for water, thereby improving operational efficiency. The system will also enable continuous monitoring of chlorine levels and water contamination. The remote monitoring facility at the central control command centre will help eliminate the burden of field visits. The real-time assessment of the water supply situation along with asset and performance management will greatly improve service delivery.
The way forward
The installation of SCADA is not the end solution, and the success of the system lies in its efficient implementation and operation. Further, the regular maintenance of IT and non-IT infrastructure will eliminate the probability of system failures. Going forward, BMC plans to integrate the SCADA system with its smart city application, “Bhopal Plus”. This will enable citizens to get updates on water supply cuts, pipeline leakages and other related information on their mobile phones. Such customer-oriented measures with an enhanced level of automation will increase system transparency and accountability of the supervisory staff. This will also serve as an example for other smart cities.