JJM deploys IoT to monitor rural drinking water

To monitor the rural drinking water supply systems in villages, the Ministry of Jal Shakti has decided to deploy IoT devices to monitor the implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) in more than six lakh villages.

For this, JJM in collaboration with Tata Community Initiatives Trust (TCIT) and Tata Trusts recently completed pilot projects in several remote villages of five states – Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Himachal Pradesh.

A key feature of these pilots has been the use of frugal yet sturdy sensors, which makes the solution scalable and sustainable. The Internet of Things (IoT) based remote monitoring provides near real-time information without any manual intervention by using sensors. This would not only allow effective monitoring and management on-ground, but also enable real-time visibility to state water supply/ PHED officials, and citizens.

The pilots also demonstrated a first-of-its-kind comprehensive (source to tap) remote monitoring and control system in a completely off-grid (using solar and battery only) rural environment in Sirohi district, Rajasthan.

Several types of sensors have been deployed including flow meters, ground water level sensors, chlorine analyzers, pressure sensors, pump controller etc. to measure all the relevant aspects of water service delivery – quantity, duration, quality, pressure, and sustainability – in addition to providing operational efficiencies. The cloud and analytics powered IoT Platform is integrated with a GIS (Geographical Information System) providing a robust decision support system.

The pilots have led to several outcomes as it has helped identify distribution issues – such as outages, leakages, low pressure, etc. and led to resolution across sites. It recently alerted both officials and community regarding fast depleting groundwater levels, that led the villagers to build a source strengthening structure to recharge their borewell. Other benefits observed include efficient and responsible use of water by the community and reduced cost of operations through data-enabled leak detection, predictive maintenance, and automation.

Villages have a small TV screen installed with a visual dashboard in local vernacular, that helps the VWSC/ PaniSamiti take corrective actions.

Customizing IoT for rural India is critical considering the Wi-Fi broadband and cellular connectivity. In fact, most locations in rural water networks lack easy access to the grid for powering such IoT devices, which is in an urban setting.

“It requires using a combination of technologies such as RF and cellular for communications, and using solar or battery-based powering mechanisms for difficult to access locations. Further, optimizing data transmission rates can play an important role in enhancing battery life and keeping operating costs low”, mentions Siddhant Masson, Project Lead – IoT based Smart Water Management, TCIT.

Several States, including Gujarat, Bihar, Haryana, and Arunachal Pradesh, have already rolled out tenders for IoT-based remote monitoring systems ranging from 500 villages to several districts. Further, States like Sikkim, Manipur, Goa, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand have started the process to roll-out this technology.

Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), Union Government’s flagship programme, which is implemented in partnership with States/UTs to provide tap water connection to every rural household by 2024 envisions creating a Digital Wall and Remote Command & Control Centre for monitoring and managing supply of prescribed quality water in adequate quantity i.e. 55 Litres Per Capita per Day (LPCD) every day through household tap connections across all rural villages.

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