Let’s also use smart technology solutions to deal with climate change
A portable smart meter on a kitchen hob showing the year-to-date cost of home energy consumption in a home. Yui Mok/PA Images/Getty Images
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Comment by Ariel Stern
- A major solution to fixing aging infrastructure to adapt to the realities of climate change is to build smarter – not bigger.
- When it comes to choosing the right technology to implement, we need to look for solutions that provide monitoring, alerting and reporting capabilities in a secure manner.
- “Smart solutions promise a whole new world in which climate change can be mitigated by the collective [by] capture real-time data from energy, water and waste utilities, municipalities and organizations [to] find and implement solutions that mitigate the problems associated with climate change,” says a new editorial.
- This post is a comment. The opinions expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
The United States is known for its “bigger is better” mindset, but when it comes to building infrastructure that takes climate change into account, that attitude is outdated. The solution to fixing aging infrastructure is actually to build smarter – not bigger – especially when applied to adjusting and building infrastructure that supports climate resilience efforts.
Municipalities must take steps to keep their cities and towns safe from major infrastructure failures like flooding. Climate change has had many impacts on water delivery infrastructure, due to both increased and decreased rainfall, sea level rise and rising temperatures. Each scenario places significant pressure on existing water system assets, increasing the risk of pollution and contamination endangering public health and overall safety.
Until now, there has been a lack of understanding of the current state of infrastructure, and to improve it requires data that is collected, organized, and used in a meaningful way. The current process requires utility teams to physically go to the field to collect the data and handle any issues first-hand, but the emergence of smart technologies is advancing data collection to climate change mitigation and replaces costly options such as statistics collection and census efforts. However, not all technological solutions are created equal.
When it comes to choosing the right technology to implement, districts should look for a solution that provides monitoring, alerting, and reporting capabilities in a secure manner. This provides facilities with the tools to improve decision making and operations.
Infrastructure management has traditionally been a manual process with field assets in remote locations collecting data without the ability to transmit the data, requiring municipalities to send utility teams to the field to collect, transmit and organize the data . To create real environmental improvement, data must be measured where and when the problem occurs – in the field.
In recent years, smart technology has become one of the most important – but quietest – technologies of the century. Simply put, smart technology is the connection of everyday objects to the internet to communicate between people, processes and things. These devices, like thermostats, kitchen appliances, and even cars, share and collect data with minimal human intervention through low-cost computing, cloud, big data, and analytics.
Installing smart technology and peripheral devices that do not require an internet connection to collect, transmit and organize data gives utility operators the ability to make better decisions, anticipate problems and times. downtime for repairs, as well as planning for the future. The two can cooperate to paint a bigger picture of energy and water use, utility management, waste generation, and more. This reliable, high-quality data is the key to unlocking new levels of efficiency and sustainability.
What does Smarter look like
Technology and data have never been so accessible. As a result, urban planning has more opportunity than ever to unleash its full potential by investing time and resources in collecting, tracking and analyzing data that has never been collected.
- Data gathering: Data collection and monitoring is critical when modernizing infrastructure to increase organizational flexibility, agility, and resilience and provide real-time system insights. Without proper monitoring in place, it is impossible to determine when there is a problem with an installation. It is important to implement AI-integrated smart edge devices that integrate with the facility’s existing infrastructure. This way, all systems can be linked together in one place, allowing them to be monitored more efficiently. For example, the City of Cincinnati sought to transform its sewer infrastructure from a 19th-century system into a smart sewer that can understand how the network performs in wet weather and manage weak spots. Collecting real-time flow, level and precipitation data from remote locations has made all the difference in the world; Cincinnati’s now dynamic sewer system can adapt appropriately to weather events based on real-time information.
- Data management: A single platform can also manage data and send alerts regarding any system disruptions. Facilities can set up automated alerts when a trigger event occurs. For example, Cincinnati has installed wavelet sensors to detect water levels and flows that provide remote alerts of potential flooding. Alerts are key to understanding the impact of climate change on existing infrastructure and allowing facilities to better understand issues that need to be addressed to reduce further damage and keep the community safe.
- Use of data: An important piece of the puzzle is using the data for reporting and analysis. Monitoring is an ongoing process that begins before, during and after an event, alerting occurs as the event unfolds, but reporting is essential to provide information and enable municipalities to better prepare to future events related to climate change. Smart reports can reveal trends that help facilities proactively act against impending weather events.
Smart solutions already offer ways to support the fight against climate change, and municipalities and organizations are already benefiting. With a comprehensive solution, facilities can react safely and efficiently to any situation that arises, regardless of the weather.
Smart solutions promise a whole new world in which climate change can be collectively mitigated. By capturing real-time data from energy, water and waste utilities, municipalities and organizations will be able to find and implement solutions that mitigate climate change issues. With so much data at your fingertips, it has never been more possible to embrace new possibilities and technological futures.