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Working toward clean water for all

Clean and healthy water is a basic human right. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goal No 6 is to improve the quality of water, so that everyone has access to clean water by 2030.

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To achieve this goal, we need to be able to measure and understand the quality of water and Ericsson is leading a project to develop a real-time water monitoring solution. The project is developed through the Digital Demo Stockholm initiative, initiated by the City of Stockholm. Other project partners are the Stockholm Water company, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm University, Linköping University and Telia Company.

We have now connected the first sensors in Stockholm and are retrieving data. This data will be analyzed and an algorithm layer will be developed to include predictability and early warning functionalities for the solution.

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Why is it important to know and to predict the water quality and who would use this? To be able to secure clean and healthy drinking water, we need to know what is processed by the water plants and the quality of water in the distribution network. A massive deployment of sensors in a city’s water network would therefore be an asset; monitoring pollution flows and bacterial contamination so that water quality can be assured.

Further on, a digitalized solution will be real time and give us simultaneous knowledge of the water status, and minimize the need for time-consuming manual sampling and lab testing. A digitalized solution will give water utilities and cities a tool to minimize their lead times, take informed decisions  and thus continue to secure access to clean and healthy water.

Different parameters are measured, such as temperature, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, oxidation-reduction potential, and pH. All of these parameters are used to assess water quality. For example the amount of dissolved oxygen can be a proxy for bacterial contamination or algae bloom and high conductivity readings in fresh water can indicate pollution. The data received from the sensors will be analyzed and our university partners will lead the development of the algorithms, where all the data is combined, to give an understanding of the current water status, as well as provide predictions based on the wide deployment of sensors.

The solution is built on Ericsson’s IoT Accelerator which manages the devices and data as well as performing the analysis of sensor data. The sensors send data in regular intervals through the LTE cellular network, and can therefore be deployed anywhere where there is connectivity. During 2017, we aim to connect sensors through Narrow Band IoT, with advantages such as deep coverage and low power consumption.

The water monitoring solution we are developing will be a future tool for cities and water utilities around the globe. By knowing the status of the water in real time, cities will be able to take measures if any pollution is detected and we as citizens can continue to enjoy safe water.

During the development of the project, we have received positive feedback from many cities around the globe and the aim is to have the solution ready during 2018. As a teaser, we will deploy a sensor in the Swedish city of Visby during the annual Almedalen event in July, where everyone will be able to see the water quality in real time to feel secure during their morning swim.

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