An intelligent monitoring system has been successfully introduced by Scottish Water across rural locations in the Highlands and Islands, using Internet of Things (IoT) technology to gather essential data and help keep the local water network safe.

Using a water safety device developed by CENSIS for M2M Cloud – Scotland’s innovation centre for sensing, imaging, and IoT technologies – Scottish Water can now automatically collect information on the temperature and flow of water in Scottish Water buildings as part of routine quality assurance checks.

Any unusual readings could point towards a potentially harmful bacteria outbreak, including legionella. Until now, the process was carried out manually with employees travelling the country to undertake regular testing.

Working as a supplier to Scottish Water’s Digital Framework partners, Atos, M2M Cloud’s Gemini devices have so far been deployed across all Scottish Water sites in Shetland, Orkney and Islay. The next phase of the roll-out will extend the deployment to another 300 sites, covering around half of the network. The installation of the smart water monitoring systems forms part of a wider commitment to digital transformation at Scottish Water, led by Atos.

The device fits on to the surface of pipes to remotely take temperature readings, notifying building managers if the water system is out of specification. Readings are taken every 10 seconds, looking at minimum and maximum temperatures, as well as detecting any issues with water flow events.

It was developed using grant funding from Scottish Enterprise last year.

Archie MacGregor, Property Manager, at Scottish Water said: “The remote temperature monitoring sensors have been a major step forward in enhancing the management of H&S in our building water systems as well as offering significant benefits in reducing journeys to site and related carbon emissions.”

M2M spokesman Chris Butchart said: “Water monitoring has typically been a carbon-intensive, resource-heavy process involving engineers taking manual readings monthly. For Scottish Water, the ability to gather that data on a continuous basis will be transformational in terms of the way it operates remote sites and ensures safe conditions are met. To have Scottish Water as the first organisation to use our latest generation device is a huge vote of confidence and we look forward to the next stage of the roll-out.”

Monitoring water systems in UK non-domestic buildings is a statutory requirement costing around £140 million per annum, while financial estimates put the healthcare and workplace impact of legionella alone at £1 billion per year across Europe1. It is anticipated that the Health and Safety Executive compliance legislation will soon evolve to include remote technology-led monitoring as part of legionella prevention.

Innovation Minister Richard Lochhead added: “This is an excellent example of how Internet of Things technology can provide smart solutions to monitor essential data that helps keep the water network in Scotland safe.

“Collecting this information remotely can transform this previously carbon-intensive process and demonstrates the potential for innovations to support our net zero ambitions. The deployment across all Scottish Water sites in Shetland, Orkney and Islay, with plans to extend the roll-out to a further 300 locations, shows the opportunity to scale up this technology.”