Analysis by Ariel Stern
- A major solution to fix aging infrastructure to adapt to climate change realities is building smarter, not bigger.
- When it comes to choosing the right technology to implement, we should look for solutions that offer to monitor, alerting, and reporting capabilities in a secure manner.
- Smart solutions promise a brand new world in which climate change can be mitigated by the collective [by] capturing real-time data from energy, water, and waste utilities, municipalities, and organizations [to] find and implement solutions that alleviate climate change-related problems, a new op-ed argues.
- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily of Mongabay.
The US has a reputation for believing that more is better, yet this mentality is out of date when it comes to creating an infrastructure that takes climate change into account. When it comes to modifying and developing infrastructure that supports efforts to combat climate change, the answer to fixing outdated infrastructure is really building smarter, not bigger.
In order to protect their towns and cities against catastrophic infrastructure failures like flooding, municipalities must take action.
The infrastructure for transporting water has been impacted by climate change in several ways, including through both greater and decreased precipitation, higher sea levels, and higher temperatures. Each scenario exerts a heavy burden on the current water network’s resources, raising the danger of pollution and contamination to people’s health and general security.
Up until now, there hasn’t been much understanding of how the infrastructure is currently functioning, and in order to make improvements, it is necessary to gather, organize, and use data in meaningful ways.
Utility staff must physically enter the field to acquire data and handle any problems there, but the development of smart technologies enhances data collection for mitigating climate change and displaces expensive options like statistical gathering and census initiatives. But not every technological advancement is made equal.
Districts should seek a technology that offers secure monitoring, alerting, and reporting capabilities when selecting the best technology to employ. This gives facilities the resources they need to enhance operations and decision-making.
In the past, managing infrastructure required governments to dispatch utility employees into the field to gather, transmit, and organize data because field assets in remote locations were incapable of doing so. The data must be measured where and when the issue arises in the field to provide actual environmental improvement.
Smart technology has developed over the past few years into one of the most significant but underappreciated technologies of the century. Simply put, smart technology is the internet connectivity of commonplace items to allow for communication between individuals, processes, and objects.
Thanks to low-cost computers, the cloud, big data, and analytics, these devices, including thermostats, household appliances, and even cars, communicate and collect data with no assistance from humans.
What Smarter Looks Like
Utility operators may make smarter judgments, foresee issues and downtime for repairs, and plan for the future by implementing smart technologies and edge devices that don’t need an internet connection to gather, transmit, and organize data.
Together, the two can provide a more comprehensive picture of how people use energy, and water, manage their utilities, produce garbage, and other things. This trustworthy, high-quality data is the key to achieving higher standards of sustainability and efficiency.
- Data Collection: Data collection and monitoring is critical when modernizing infrastructure to increase organizational flexibility, agility, and resiliency and provide real-time insights on the system. Without proper monitoring in place, it is impossible to determine when there is a problem with a facility. It s important to implement smart edge devices embedded with AI that integrate with the facility s existing infrastructure. This way all the systems can be tied together in one place, therefore allowing them to be monitored more effectively. For instance, the city of Cincinnati sought to transform its sewer infrastructure from a 19th-century-era system to a smart sewer that was able to understand how the network operates under wet weather conditions and manage weak points. The collection of real-time flow, level, and precipitation data from remote locations made all the difference in the world; Cincinnati s now dynamic sewer system can adjust appropriately to weather events based on real-time information.
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- Data Management: A single platform can also manage the data and send alerts regarding any disruptions in the system. Facilities can set up automated alerts for when a triggering event occurs. For example, Cincinnati installed wavelet sensors to detect water levels and flows that provide remote alerts for potential flooding. Alerts are crucial in understanding how climate change is impacting the existing infrastructure and allowing facilities to better understand the issues that need to be addressed in order to reduce further damage and keep the community safe.
- Data Utilization: An important piece to the puzzle is using the data for reporting and analytics. Monitoring is a continuous process that begins before, during, and after an event, alerting happens as the event unfolds, but reporting is critical in providing insights and allowing municipalities to better prepare for future climate change-related events. Smart reporting can reveal trends that help facilities to act proactively against imminent weather events.
Data and technology are now more available than ever. As a result, urban planning now has more chances than ever to realize its full potential by devoting time and money to the gathering, tracking, and evaluating hitherto uncollected data.
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Municipalities and organizations are already utilizing smart solutions as a means of assisting in the battle against climate change. Facilities can respond to any crisis that happens safely and effectively, regardless of the weather, with a complete solution.
A new world where collective action can be used to slow down climate change is promised by smart solutions. Municipalities and organizations will be able to develop and implement solutions that solve climate change-related issues by collecting real-time data from electricity, water, and trash utilities. Embracing new technological possibilities and futures has never been easier thanks to the abundance of data at our disposal.