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Riding the Storm: How IoT is Making Waves in Stormwater Management

We all remember the wet and wild winter of 2022/2023, don’t we? The western United States was drenched with an astonishing 78 trillion gallons of water in just six months! It was a mixed bag – while the water levels in lakes and reservoirs needed a boost, the floods and stormwater runoff left a big mess behind. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tells us it was one of the wettest winters on record.

This soggy situation underscores the importance of smart stormwater management and the role that IoT can play in helping cities and local governments plan and accommodate for gushing run off.

Giving Wings to Smart Solutions

Pilot programs are the unsung heroes in the realm of smart stormwater management. They let organizations and local governments experiment with new tech and tactics before going full-scale. We ran a survey earlier this year that revealed that 50% of organizations have now executed smart utility projects, up from 38% five years ago, meaning there’s a lot of interest in how to use IoT to better utility programs around the country.

Even utility companies are aboard the pilot program ship, with 75% of them viewing pilot projects as pivotal in spearheading innovation. Many (70%) consider government backing as crucial for smart utility development. That’s where funding from programs like the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act comes into play by providing financial support for game-changing IoT and infrastructure programs.

Making a Difference with IoT

Drought prone places know the value of capturing stormwater but often find programs slow-moving. LA County, for example, has, according to the LA Times, “$556 million and a plan to capture more stormwater” but according to the same publication, only captured 20% of stormwater from last winter’s storms.

Here’s where IoT can make a splash: advanced meter infrastructure, intelligent devices that keep an eye on water purity and sediment levels, and greywater management can all be connected via IoT to large scale outdoor networks. IoT tech also helps in keeping tabs on collection systems, ensuring they don’t overflow.

Stability, Security, and Standards

Implementing IoT systems can be challenging due to security, complexity, and the need to demonstrate a proven ROI. That said, Wi-SUN networks are based on open standards, ensuring reliability, robustness, and security. Our Field Area Networks (FAN) use wireless mesh topology that is tailor-made for large-scale outdoor networks and supports a plethora of IoT devices.

Water companies can either or deploy their own dedicated network, or share communications infrastructure with a utility or municipality. For example, a streetlight network using Wi-SUN FAN can provide the connectivity for the IoT devices used for monitoring and managing storm water.  This enables impressive collaborations with energy companies and local municipalities, cutting down capital expenditures.

Last, but not least, cyber security is a critical consideration. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has warned that public water systems are susceptible to cyber-attacks. All devices connected to a Wi-SUN FAN network are required to meet enterprise level authentication and encryption standards, ensuring that the network and the data is protected against cyber-attacks.

Wet winters across the country are important for refilling reservoirs and building ecosystems. An IoT network built using Wi-SUN FAN technology will ensure the network reliability, resilience and security, enables cities and municipalities to properly manage precious rainfall and run off to avoid damage and water loss.