In the past few years, information technology deployment and penetration in the water supply and waste management segments have been growing with the adoption of innovative technology solutions. This technology revolution is presenting urban local bodies (ULBs) with many new possibilities and opportunities. Besides ensuring efficiency, these digital solutions in the waste management segment help in route planning for garbage collection and monitoring waste generation and collection levels.
According to the United Nations, water scarcity will directly affect nearly 20 per cent of the human population by 2025 and indirectly influence the rest of the planet’s inhabitants as well as economies and entire ecosystems. Recently, the Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) has partnered with ABB India to further roll out next-generation technology and support its vision of delivering continuous water supply across the city of Surat, with its 24×7 Water Supply Scheme. Surat receives significant water demand from industrial sectors, with clusters of textile units consuming more than 450 million litres per day. In 2018, SMC upgraded to ABB’s digital water management solution. The city is also addressing the critical issue of optimum water usage across domestic, commercial and industrial consumption.
Smart bins are being installed by various cities, including Surat, to clear waste in a systematic manner. These bins have sensors that send out a signal once garbage fills up to the brim. The signal is then communicated to the concerned contractor/corporation for ensuring timely clearance. The smart bin also eliminates the possibility of human intervention at the site, thus impacting the livelihood of the waste-picker community. SMC adopted one of the most innovative solutions to handle the issue of solid waste with the installation of underground garbage systems. SMC has also installed 75 underground garbage bins across the city with a capacity of 1.5 tonnes each. The bins are equipped with ultrasonic sensors for measuring the garbage level and sending alerts to the control room as soon as the container is 70 per cent full. The alerts are sent through an information and communications technology-enabled global positioning system (GPS) deployed in bins as well as trucks. This innovative solution has resulted in the reduction of garbage transportation cost by 8 per cent. In addition, SMC has introduced live tracking of door-to-door garbage collection vehicles using GPS to track them. SMC has also equipped its waste collection vehicles with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags to track their movement on a real-time basis. RFID incorporates the use of electromagnetic or electrostatic coupling in the radio frequency portion of the electromagnetic spectrum to uniquely identify the exact location.
A number of ULBs are introducing online portals for civic services, and deploying advanced treatment technologies for wastewater treatment, automation and instrumentation tools, and solutions for asset monitoring and maintenance. Supervisory control and data acquisition systems have been installed for the existing 23 sewage pumping stations and six sewage treatment plants in Surat. The systems help the corporation in online data monitoring and controlling, advanced planning for predictive maintenance, improving energy efficiency and reducing maintenance cost.
The way forward
With rapid population growth and dwindling freshwater resources in the country, SMC is expected to enhance the adoption of innovative service delivery improvement mechanisms.
Te-chnology advancements are expected to play a vital role in ensuring efficient urban service delivery. There is a need to communicate proactively with customers to serve them better, by developing multiple communication channels and this will lay the foundation for future growth and improvement in service provisioning. Going forward, wastewater recycling and reuse are also expected to gain traction in the coming years, given the depleting groundwater levels.