June 2022

Non-revenue water (NRW) continues to be a challenge in the majority of Indian cities. In an attempt to increase revenues, the water authorities have started taking initiatives to reduce NRW levels, plug leakages and eliminate illegal connections using advanced techniques such as advanced metering infrastructure systems. The implementation of real-time monitoring and data analysis through database systems has resulted in the quicker detection and resolution of problems.

Geo-enabled utilities around the world have significantly improved the management of their complex water utility operations. The geographic information system (GIS) brings exceptional value to every utility’s engineering, planning, design and construction practice by supporting real-world modelling. In India, too, GIS has been playing a pivotal role in smart water management by facilitating real-time monitoring of the water network.

GIS is also being deployed in sewage treatment and management systems. The automation of sewage treatment plants has gained traction as it improves the operational performance of urban local bodies. Besides, technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning can help address issues such as sludge expansion, and improve aeration and pump efficiency. This will help in identifying issues in the treatment facilities.

Project management is one of the key factors for laying of gas pipelines. Over the past two to three years, the city gas distribution industry has witnessed the emergence of new networks to cater to the growing demand. Digital twins can also help scale up utility capital projects by bridging the gap between the design and the system of record. Digital twin technology involves the replication of an on-field asset on a digital platform to understand its behaviour.

Meanwhile, in the power sector, the utilities are adopting new and emerging IT and OT solutions in a big way to reduce costs, optimise operational performance and enhance customer experience. IT-based technological systems such as cloud computing, powerline communications, internet of things, digital substations, blockchain, remote monitoring solutions, data solutions based on AI and machine learning, etc. are being adopted to solve complex business problems and simplify processes.

The government has also been focusing on the enhanced adoption of IT-OT in power, primarily distribution. IT-OT initiatives were a crucial component of older schemes such as the Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme, launched nearly two decades ago, as well as new ones such as the Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme, launched last year.

This issue of Smart Utilities discusses the role of digitalisation in 24×7 water supply systems and wastewater management. It also highlights the solutions for gas leakage detection and pipeline network management. In addition, the issue captures the digital transformation initiatives of power utilities as well as the application of new and emerging technologies in the power sector.