Santiago is Chile’s capital and largest city, with about 6 million residents. Parts of the South American city are located in the Andes mountains and others in the valley. The city has a varying elevation, gradually increasing from 400 m (1,312 ft) in the western areas to more than 700 m (2,297 ft) in the eastern areas.
Chile has been plagued with drought for more than ten years. There is enormous pressure on local utilities to maximize water resources. In April 2022, water rationing was announced. Drinking water comes from private wells and rainwater harvesting from the mountains.
Fitting a 20th Century Water Network with IoT Technology
Every drop counts in a drought-plagued country where 30% of the national water supply is lost through pipe leakage. In addition, climate change has pushed the water topic to the top of the political agenda for Chilean society and government. Political protests have highlighted the diversion of water for agricultural products that are exported while Chileans are forced to ration water.
Paul Guiloff, Blass CEO, explained, “Everyone knows we are dealing with a critical situation, and we have to deal with this new situation. It’s a reality that we have few rain showers; we need data to manage it more properly in a climate change situation.”
When new management took over a medium-sized Santiago utility, executives decided to take data collection in a new direction. The utility had a few challenges to face:
- There were a few data loggers in place before Ayyeka’s installation, but water data was mostly collected manually.
- The old method was difficult and time-consuming. Worst of all, the data was old when it was collected.
- The utility’s network has a scope of 300 km worth of water pipes. They are in the process of creating a new “DMA” to better manage their network.
The utility turned to Blass, the leading integrator of remote monitoring solutions in Chile, to install more than 100 data points manufactured by Ayyeka. The project started with 70 monitoring points, and another 70 were added in less than 12 months.
The installation gives real-time data from offline assets, making it easier to manage resources and detect maintenance issues. Guiloff said, “It’s quite illuminating” to get data from points for the first time ever and real-time data from other points that had a data logger but did not transmit in real-time.
Ayyeka’s Field Assets Intelligence enables the utility to send SMS and/or email alerts in real-time and to track the historical log of threshold events. The utility manages a greater district meter area more efficiently with this methodology that includes pressure sensors and flow meters, “everything they need to succeed,” Guiloff adds.
Flow meters and pressure release valves (PRV) need to be installed because there are different ground levels in Santiago that affect water pressure. Pressure data is needed so they can operate more effectively.
Guiloff added that “Given climate change, the transformation that water utilities will continue to experience in the coming years, they will need to have greater confidence in the technologies and make use of the data that is generated to boost performance and do more with less.”
In summary, the utility has installed more than 100 points of remote data collection since 2021.Chile is taking concrete action to address the water crisis, putting the South American nation in a select group of trailblazers dealing with unpredictable weather situations.
Ayyeka and BLASS have provided the utility not only with data meters but real insight into their data. They provided the utility with BI screens so they could manage their most critical information regarding threshold parameters. Blass is helping them create reports to fulfill government regulations.
“Therefore, the issue that must be studied in depth is the efficiency in the distribution of water and ensuring its quality, the collection of water in a safe and uncontaminated manner, and responsible consumption. For all of the above, what is needed is data, data, and more data,” Guiloff explained.
In the future, Santiago needs to install flow monitors and PRV pressure release valves in the city. They need to learn predictive maintenance and forecasting with digital data.
It’s not a question of if but when utilities will install remote digital solutions to collect data as part of an overall upgrade of critical infrastructure.
Ayyeka knows the future of critical infrastructure because we are building it. Let us show you how. Contact us at +1 (301) 876-8040. To discuss local solutions in Chile, contact our partners at BLASS.