Smart Wastewater Networks: Preparing for 5G Technology

Storm surges and flash flooding continue to threaten the overflow of wastewater in many cities around the world and it has been a challenge to monitor wastewater levels in real time to be able to provide a timely response. What if we can build smart wastewater networks to prevent these problems?

In the UK, a group of the country’s leading water companies have joined to create guidelines in establishing network connectivity in partnership with SSE Enterprise Telecoms to install fibre in the sewers.

Because of the scale of the task at hand and the sensitivity to costs involved in such as venture, the technical user group (TUG) has developed a standard set of rules to follow in rolling out fibre in the sewers using existing infrastructures to minimize disruption to the public and to save on expenses.

London’s sewer system has been around since the Victorian era and encompasses thousands of miles of pipes and tunnels beneath the city. It would be pivotal to have the capability to monitor the performance of these systems to have a better assessment of the wastewater flow in real time. These are to watch out for external threats such as heavy rains and blockages. A connected fibre network would greatly improve services to their customers as well as protecting the environment.

SSE Enterprise Telecoms’ Fibre in the Sewers (FiS) programme is utilising innovative ways of incorporating their fibre into existing infrastructure turning the sewage system into a smart network providing live data on flow rates and potential bottlenecks that could cause problems before they happen.

Another purpose of laying fibre in the sewer system is that it provides a foundation for 5G services using the already existing network without the need to create a new network of sites above ground. This would open more business for mobile network operators (MNOs) and makes 5G deployment more extensive and quicker to roll out.

Paul Clark, Sector Director for Energy and Utilities at SSE Enterprise Telecoms, said that the project is aimed at improving the nation’s connectivity and form the backbone of their drive for creating a smart city of the future. Their symbiotic relationship with the water companies ensures that they get the cutting-edge technology they need to fully monitor wastewater flow across the city and optimising wastewater transmission to the treatment plants without disruption.

“By establishing the TUG we have brought some of the key players into one room to agree a common set of standards, that not only enable us to further develop our connectivity offerings via the sewer, but also deploy cutting edge monitoring technology. This technology will help these providers monitor the flow of sewage, and better manage their infrastructure, which will future proof them for years to come”, Clark said.

According to Paul Kerr, Managing Director of Scottish Water Horizons, a member of the TUG, their company oversees 32,000 miles of wastewater pipes throughout Scotland and that their partnership with SSE has enabled them to dramatically improve their service to their customers while also filling a growing demand for faster and more expansive internet networks.

If you are a municipality in Ontario and in need of a biosolids management solution, please feel free to contact us at 1 (877) 479-1388.


Smart Wastewater Networks: Preparing for 5G Technology
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