The City of Atlanta has a vision: to create a “Utility of the Future” by leading with a Digital Transformation of the Department of Watershed Management (DWM) in the One Water 2022 Plan. The One Water 2022 Plan calls upon technology and data sharing to help manage water usage, stormwater and infrastructure.
Fresh water is one of the world’s most precious resources and water utilities are being asked to do more with less. The DWM (servicing the City of Atlanta, several cities outside of Atlanta and parts of unincorporated Fulton County) provides drinking water for up to 1.2 million people each day and provides stormwater services to the entire city through 500 miles of pipe. Efficiency, flexibility, reliability and accuracy remain paramount to ensuring economic and environmental sustainability.
The following are the objectives of the One Water Vision 2020 Plan:
- Integrate digital technology which will lead to data driven decision making and improved performance and efficiency.
- Become a Smart Utility which works efficiently with other aspects of Smart City Atlanta through investing in people, process, policy and technology.
- Enable real time awareness to facilitate informed decision making through a series of sensors and data.
In terms of the Internet of Things, digital cellular technology can eliminate the need for traditional fixed-network infrastructure which means utilities can focus maintenance costs on other projects. In the past, water utilities upgraded their systems by installing a new physical network around a city. In contrast, cellular-enabled water metering solutions eliminate the upfront expense and hassle tied to fixed-network deployment.
As man-made climate change brings increasingly unpredictable weather, physical infrastructure is vulnerable. A benefit of cellular-enabled technology is resilience. Cellular networks typically come back online fast in order to support emergency efforts, allowing water utility companies to spring into action. Managing water will only become more important in the future with population growth and climate change. Atlanta is on the right track by taking steps towards improving water data and data sharing. This improved data will allow stakeholders to hold utilities accountable and allow utilities to save money.