Testing the waters: Hyderabad lab pushes for smart solutions to curb water wastage
The IIITH students use AI algorithms to get real-time data. This gives them insights into the water distribution network, especially about leakages as well as water consumption behaviour
Vikram Gulecha, Karan Behar and Riddhish Soni of Oceo, aka, Project Jalashaya, come from diverse backgrounds. Count Google and ISRO among them. This talented group has created a technology to benefit water utilities, irrigation departments and hydropower corporations. International Institute of Information Technology Hyderabad (IIITH) students Rishikesh Bose, Nilesh Bawankar, Ayush Kumar Lall and Ansh Khandelwal put their heads together to come up with a ‘Smart Water Meter’ idea. The concept would benefit the government, municipal corporation and large communities.
Team Kritsnam—comprising IIT Kanpur and Kharagpur students Sri Harsha K, Prudhvi Sagar, Neeraj Rai, and Vinay Chataraaju—helps the local water sewerage boards, rural water supply and sanitation networks, industries and groundwater department. Whatever the water problem, these youngsters have you covered.
Smart City Living Lab, an open-innovation ecosystem at the IIITH, in collaboration with Smart City mission and Government of Telangana, announced the Water Challenge this March to find viable solutions to solve water quality and supply issues. Three teams will be presenting their final ideas this month.
The winner will be able to implement a pilot run in one of the cities of Telangana. Anuradha Vattem, curator of the project, says, “We received 16 responses of which four were shortlisted. After a series of discussions with the shortlisted teams, it was decided that the three teams will be doing the ‘proof of concept’ at the IIITH lab. Most of these solutions are tailored to the needs of the Indian demographic and can be deployed globally too.”
Although it took Project Jalashaya three years to move from ideation to implementation, the result—to be able to monitor pipeline leakages and demand justice—paid off. Harnessing evolving technology to the maximum, the team uses new geospatial resources and tools such as GIS, remote sensing, social networking, and even mobile phones etc, to provide ‘Decision Support Scenarios’, which would be vital to monitor the water leak detection. “This enables equitable distribution of water due to accurate water leak forecasts and precise assessment of pipeline damage due to corrosion, construction, human negligence etc,” they promise.
The IIITH students use AI algorithms to get real-time data. This gives them insights into the water distribution network, especially about leakages as well as water consumption behaviour of the community in different times and seasons. “Governments and communities can take these insights to improve the water distribution, reduce wastage and save more,” says the team. Since the budget was not sufficient to deploy digital water meters, they switched to analog meters, a cheaper alternative. “Fortunately, it worked. Currently the raw material cost for each node is Rs 7,000. But we are working on a cheaper version,” they say enthusiastically. The challenge? “The nodes deployed in insecure locations could get stolen and need special iron cages for protection,” they rue.
In two years, Team Kritsnam’s project idea has turned into a product that saves 30 percent of water consumption. “In one of the hackathons by the Ministry of Water Resources, we proved that if we can measure the level and flow of water in all places, we can do the complete water budgeting for the country. This made us think towards developing a flow meter which is ideal for monitoring from remote locations,” says the team. The cost of the project, including implementation, is Rs 40,000. The only dampener is that poor network connectivity could affect it as it uses cellular signals for data transmission from meter to cloud. But if the projects see successful implementation, it will be goodbye to some pressing water issues.