What are SWN?

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What are Smart Water Networks?

Water supply distribution networks are not actively managed based on real time status data. The central distribution management is carried out based on medium term and operational planning. Medium term planning is carried out taking into account repair and maintenance activities in the distribution network and production locations. Laboratory samples are taken manually and laboratory results become available after days. Events like leakages or quality incidents are handled reactively and are mostly detected hours or days after the start of the event. Operational planning is aimed at continuous and efficient operations based on historic water demand and water production.

Distribution management is taken care of at local or regional level. Typically, the distribution management has access to:

  • Continuous flow parameters are measured like volume, flow velocity and pressure for leak or pipe breakage detection;
  • Wherever appropriate, continuous physical and chemical parameters are measured like pH, turbidity, conductivity, active chlorine, temperature for quality anomalies detection;
  • Alarms and signals from other internal sources (e.g. observations of customers, or production personnel);
  • SCADA systems with production data and monitored parameters;
  • Analogue information and data, like maps.



In recent years the idea of Smart Water Networks(SWN) has arisen which build upon innovative Sensing, Information, and Communication Technology (SICT) solutions using Artificial Intelligence to develop customised, integrated Command and Control Systems of Systems (C2SoS) for preemptive management of Smart Water Networks. A lot of R & D has been undertaken to develop new sensors and the corresponding data processing and interpretation algorithms. However, the current solutions are yet fragmented, do not meet user requirements and open and standardised solutions do not exist. Although currently available solutions can be used to detect events almost on real time basis, they fall short for the purpose of effective and continuous online monitoring of a water distribution network. The purpose of the EU FP7 sponsored SW4EU demonstration project is to demonstrate the feasibility and viability of the integration and deployment of these innovative solutions for SWN applications for sustainable water supply, reliable quality control, energy optimisation, incident management and improved customers’ interaction in 4 demonstration water distribution sites, including: the SUNRISE site at the University of Lille, France, the VITENS Innovation Playground (VIP) site at Friesland, Netherland, Acciona's SWING demo-site in Burgos, Spain and Thames Water's TWIST demo-site in Reading, United Kingdom.

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