Full ‘stream’ ahead for Scottish Water smart monitoring roll-out


AN intelligent monitoring system has been successfully introduced by Scottish Water across rural locations in the Highlands and Islands, using Internet of Things (IoT) technology to gather essential data that helps keep the water network in Scotland safe.

Using a device developed by CENSIS for M2M Cloud – Scotland’s innovation centre for sensing, imaging, and IoT technologies – Scottish Water can now automatically collect information on the temperature and flow of water in Scottish Water buildings as part of routine quality assurance checks.  Any unusual readings could point towards a potentially harmful bacteria outbreak, including legionella. Until now, the process was carried out manually with employees travelling the country to undertake regular testing. 

Working as a supplier to Scottish Water’s Digital Framework partners, Atos, M2M Cloud’s Gemini devices have so far been deployed across all Scottish Water sites in Shetland, Orkney and Islay. The next phase of the roll-out will extend the deployment to a further 300 sites, covering around half of the network. The installation of the smart water monitoring systems forms part of a wider commitment to digital transformation at Scottish Water, led by Atos.

The first of its kind device fits on to the surface of pipes to remotely take temperature readings, notifying building managers if the water system is out of specification. Readings are taken every 10 seconds, looking at minimum and maximum temperatures, as well as detecting any issues with water flow events.

This latest generation of the rechargeable battery-powered device was developed CENSIS for M2M, after receiving grant funding from Scottish Enterprise last year. The device is now capable of operating on both cellular Narrow Band IoT (NB-IoT) and LoRaWAN networks, making the system easier to set up in hard-to-reach areas. The addition of Bluetooth connectivity has cut installation times by one-third.

Chris Butchart, director at M2M Cloud, said: “Water monitoring has typically been a carbon-intensive, resource-heavy process involving engineers taking manual readings monthly. For Scottish Water, the ability to gather that data on a continuous basis will be transformational in terms of the way it operates remote sites and ensures safe conditions are met. To have Scottish Water as the first organisation to use our latest generation device is a huge vote of confidence and we look forward to the next stage of the roll-out.”

M2M Cloud’s system can reduce carbon emissions associated with water monitoring by up to 75% – around 300kgs of CO2 per year for each monitored asset – by removing the need for travel to the site and the necessity to overheat water supplies, which organisations often do to avoid the risk of bacteria outbreaks. Water wastage is also reduced by around 225,000 litres per asset, per year.

The device’s battery can last for up to five years before needing recharged, rather than replaced, and can be charged while the device remains in situ attached to the pipework. It is also the only water safety device to have been awarded IASME Gold level certification – an industry-recognised measure of IoT cyber security.

Monitoring water systems in UK non-domestic buildings is a statutory requirement costing around £140 million per annum, while financial estimates put the healthcare and workplace impact of legionella alone at £1 billion per year across Europe. It is anticipated that the Health and Safety Executive compliance legislation will soon evolve to include remote technology-led monitoring as part of legionella prevention.

Kevin Power, system architect at CENSIS, said: “It is great to see the successful use of a 5G ready IoT device wholly designed and manufactured in Scotland, by one of our biggest utility providers. We have supported M2M Cloud since the early stages of development and the business continues to go from strength to strength. The latest generation of the technology represents a big step forward in terms of ease of connectivity and will support the growing demand from businesses for digital transformation and IoT.” 

Archie MacGregor, Property Manager at Scottish Water, added: “The remote temperature monitoring sensors have been a major step forward in enhancing the management of H&S in our building water systems as well as offering significant benefits in reducing journeys to site and related carbon emissions. We are delighted to have M2M and CENSIS working with us in delivering these innovative solutions which completely align with our Strategic Ambitions of Net Zero Emissions and providing Great Value for our customers.”

Innovation Minister Richard Lochhead said: “This is an excellent example of how Internet of Things technology can provide smart solutions to monitor essential data that helps keep the water network in Scotland safe.

“Collecting this information remotely can transform this previously carbon-intensive process and demonstrates the potential for innovations to support our net zero ambitions. The deployment across all Scottish Water sites in Shetland, Orkney and Islay, with plans to extend the roll-out to a further 300 locations, shows the opportunity to scale up this technology.

“Ensuring Scotland can realise the full economic benefits of the digital and data economy is fundamental to the Scottish Government’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation. As a key enabler of sustainable economic growth, digital infrastructure is a critical part of our plans for a fair, green and growing economy.”

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