Smart Water for Smart Cities

I’ve had three careers. My first was as a secondary school Maths teacher. This was just as computers were emerging as wider industry tools. I took a computer course and, to gain experience, switched to computer programming. I never returned to teaching, instead I spent 30 years working in various I.T. roles including database designer and business analyst before being offered the position of Manager, Operations Research at City West Water – a dream job that I was initially looking for after first graduating. So my third career started just five years ago. Mathematics has been one of the three key skills for my current position, the other two being business analysis and computer applications design especially data design. Throughout my careers a background in mathematics has provided me with an ability to establish an understanding of processes. My current career allows me to apply mathematics and use all of the fantastic tools that are available today.

Engineering maths is critical to water authorities. We are very much construct and operate companies. Maths extends across all aspects of the business, demand forecasting, consumption measurement, billing, KPI setting and monitoring, reporting and analysis.

Optimisation studies allow us to put the right sized infrastructure into operation at the right time during strong customer growth periods and changing weather patterns…Increased use of image processing allows us to measure and report image based data. We have built a rain-event estimation model based on tracking and projecting weather radar images. We can use this same technique to infill the spaces between fixed rain gauges to identify rain patterns in potential storm water harvesting sites.

Data mining allows us to know the normal operating bounds of our network components at different times of day and seasons. Real-time monitoring allows us to detect abnormal operation and undertake early intervention before failure of the component. We are highly regulated and so water quality and many other aspects of our operation have to be reported. Statistical sampling and analysis is critical. For “data junkies” who want to interrogate and understand how the world works by the numbers, it’s pretty good.

 

Ian Monks: City West Water, Manager of Operations Research. 

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