Smart sewerage and water management services as a key part of sustainable cities that use IoT to optimize their resources’ communal services efficiency.

Smart cities are urban flagship development projects envisioned to integrate the Internet of things and information and communication technology in a bid to manage a city’s resources and assets. A lot goes into managing a city and maintaining its optimal running. The integration of recent technologies aimed at streamlining city operations has revolutionized various aspects that collectively form an essential part of the daily functioning of sustainable city management. The part of communal services management, like for example traffic management and sewer management, but also city security, and waste disposal, are a few functions that have benefits from the new age of Smart Cities. Sewer management, as we shall discuss later on in the article, has, in perspective, been a virtually unchanged service in most cities across the globe for over a hundred years and counting.

Sewerage systems, by part and large, mainly comprise a series of underground pipes, collecting ducts, and treatment plants. A whole lot of workforce to ensure the entire setup runs optimally. A system failure can have widespread and detrimental effects on both the environment and the city residents’ health. Sewage leaks are a nightmare many cities would rather not have to deal with. In the wake of this realization, city authorities are now turning to smart technologies aimed at efficiently managing sewer systems and keep them running like clockwork.

Smart sewerage management systems reasons

These systems are designed to perform two tasks: 

  • First, to effectively handle the flow of raw waste through high-volume and low-volume periods. This also includes the occasional times of high precipitation that translates into large quantities of water, making their way into the sewers. Smart sewerage systems allow city sewer infrastructure to store overflows in huge interceptor facilities built in various parts of the system. The addition of smart sensors to detect and monitor flow levels allows smart sewer systems to manage, for example, gates and valves. Further, these direct wastewater to locations where there is sufficient storage space.
  • The second, is to monitor wastewater infrastructure for any weaknesses or damage that may require attention and deploy specialized robots to perform routine maintenance on the same.

No sustainable city is truly ‘smart’ without the inclusion of smart sewage management systems. Cities must adopt septage management and decentralized wastewater treatment models. This allows further advancement of sustainable water management as a pragmatic way forward to tackle the issue of water shortage.

As more and more cities continue to adopt smart technologies in sewerage management, the need to automate operations becomes apparent. This means phasing out human labor instead of using robots and a series of sensors placed throughout the system. This ensures the efficient running and maintenance of such systems for communal services management. Most sewer systems in worldwide cities operate since the 18th and 19th centuries. All the assets, like for example the pipes, the entire water management, drainage infrastructure, and other equipment are quite old. Replacing the old infrastructure with new is a time and labor-intensive proposition. The introduction of robots, sensors, and monitoring systems is, therefore, a welcome addition. Sensors placed along sewer lines and drainage systems allow for “self-diagnosis,” which efficiently enables convenient scheduling of maintenance trips and routines. Robots replacing humans in sewer operations and treatment plans can eliminate the risk of human error.
The truth is, sewers are no place for human resources to be working in. Therefore, the mentioned robots serve a much-needed role. Therefore, it is feasible and likely that shortly, sewer systems will become fully automated and efficient. This will make the lives of the city dwellers a great deal easier, allowing city authorities to focus on other issues save for the occasional check-up. Future sewerage systems will be built to integrate the Internet of things fully. An array of sensors connected to a mission control brings together the data that enable decision-making.

Problems facing the adoption of smart technologies in communal services

The concept of a fully functional smart sewer management system sounds as intriguing as it is exciting. However, despite all the advantages the system would convey, several drawbacks limit the uptake of such systems. These include;

  • Cost concerns: Smart technologies are quite costly to procure, maintain, and run. The cost of smart sewer management technology could easily outweigh the budgets of most cities in countries across the globe.
  • Replacing workers with robots is the primary cause of job losses in many industry sectors. Robots are already taking over the automotive industry, and soon enough could encroach on other jobs too. This idea is not something most people are open to.
  • Technology, in all its glory, is not immune to glitches. In the event of a catastrophic failure, someone has to be held accountable. This means that most city authorities would instead prefer to have a human resource presence in control.
  • Data security is a primary concern as far as smart technologies are concerned. After the recent wave of cyberattacks, there has been a renewed drive to question how safe, smart technologies are.
  • Most sewer systems are archaic. This presents considerable challenges in modernizing to smart sewer management platforms.


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