CORDIS - EU research results

Safeguarding Water Distribution Systems from Contamination Threats using the SmartTap Platform

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - WATERGUARD (Safeguarding Water Distribution Systems from Contamination Threatsusing the SmartTap Platform)

Reporting period: 2015-07-01 to 2015-12-31

Water leaks and contamination events incur a significant cost to the water utilities. On average, 20% of the drinking water which enters a European water utility is lost and thus does not produce any revenue. What’s more, failures in one part of the network can cause contamination events, which may affect water quality and cause health problems to the consumers. This then leads to high insurance costs and productivity losses.
Contaminations are rare events with high impact; currently, in order to identify accidental and even malicious contamination events, water utilities rely on manual sampling to monitor water quality, in accordance to EU regulations. However, it may take days before a contamination event is detected. The present state of art is to install a small number of quality sensors measuring different parameters at various locations in the network, and connect them to a SCADA system where an operator monitors the measured signals. Some sensors provide their own proprietary software system for sensor data analysis, although in a typical system, sensors of various brands may be utilized. The most sophisticated event detection solutions have extremely high costs, which are prohibitive for the significant majority of water providers in Europe, as well as in the international market.

As part of the WaterGuard Project, Aqualligence Ltd conducted a feasibility study in view of the company’s plans for the commercialization of its innovative AquaRisk software platform, which enhances the security of water distribution systems through early-warning and detection of water contamination events. The AquaRisk platform is a cloud-based software, which receives information from internet-enabled sensors as well as from water utility SCADA systems, processes hydraulic and quality data and produces alerts with every event detection.

The feasibility study has significantly improved our understanding of the market and its needs, allowing us to fine-tune the product for operators providing water to European small cities and communities, which is crucial for the second phase of the commercialization.
In the framework of the WaterGuard project, Aqualligence has conducted a thorough feasibility study aiming to provide evidence whether the developed platform has a market potential to make a sustainable business, in line with the vision and the founders goals. Towards this goal, the following tasks were performed: 1) Preparation of an extensive market analysis to identify the key characteristics of the European market, their operational environment, as well as the water providers’ needs with respect to water quality monitoring; 2) Study on the competition, their positioning into the market and their relevant products; 3) Analysis of the Intellectual Property Rights of all the direct and indirect competitors, investigation of Aqualligence’s freedom-to-operate, and identification of niche positioning strategy; 4) Comparison of different business models, using the business model canvas methodology, and assessment of the most suitable models for our solution; 5) Estimation of the production and sales costs based on realistic assumptions; 6) Identification of the technological and financial risks and subsequently their potential effects; 7) A financial projection analysis under different scenarios.
The main findings of this feasibility study are that the continuous water quality market will expand in the following years due to changes in regulations, that the water industry is investing in new water quality monitoring technologies, and that a sustainable business model for water quality monitoring can be identified.
AquaRisk is a result of our team’s 10-year research experience on monitoring and security of water systems, and advances the industry state-of-art in water quality monitoring by using cutting-edge methodologies such as real-time state-estimation and network models, machine learning and computational intelligence tools, as well as open standards which allow the use of utility-operated sensors, or, through the use of the Platform API, consumer sensors and other relevant information.

To demonstrate the impact, based on the results of the feasibility study, if our water quality monitoring service is provided to 100 small towns in Europe with 5,000,000 consumers consuming 350 Mm3 per year it would reduce the risk for a high-impact contamination event which; if one contamination event were to occur, this could cost more than 5M€ in liabilities and productivity losses. Furthermore, the continuous online monitoring will assist water utilities become more efficient in manual water quality sampling, thus reducing the associated analysis cost by 10-15%. In addition, quality events may be associated with leakage events, and as a result, water waste could be reduced by 0.5-1% which corresponds to 0.4–0.7 Mm3 per year.
The AquaRisk Platform