The Internet of Things (IoT) has already improved clothing, packaging, advertising, and agriculture – so why not utilities?

Rogers Communications Inc. and Swedish telecommunications giant Ericsson plan to answer that question by running a “connected water” pilot program for the city of Ottawa that will use cloud-based sensors to automatically measure and report water quality every 30 minutes.

In a Nov. 15 statement Charlie Wade, senior vice president of products and solutions with Rogers’ enterprise business unit, said the project was part of a larger effort by the company to support cities and communities across Canada.

“Hundreds of cities across Canada today rely on manual processes to maintain and deliver utilities,” Wade said. “Internet of Things solutions can help municipalities like the City of Ottawa save time and resources while improving the accuracy of their processes.”

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In addition to the nation’s capital, the Rideau Valley, South Nation, and Mississippi Valley Conservation Authorities are also participating in the pilot, part of Ottawa’s Innovation Program which partners city departments with relevant businesses, entrepreneurs, and start-ups for product or technology testing, enhancing city programs and services while providing the companies with real-life testing environments.

In the Nov. 15 release, Ericsson Canada president Graham Osborne noted that while similar programs have effectively boosted water quality, they have also been too expensive for a city the size of Ottawa to deploy.

The first program of its kind in Canada, the connected water solution will complement Ottawa’s existing water monitoring program, which involves performing approximately 80,000 water quality tests for a 4,500-kilometre network of rivers and streams every year. The data collected by the project’s sensor network will help city staff predict and respond to potential water quality issues, such as pollution levels, algae blooms, or problems caused by abnormal temperatures.

The connected water solution is only the latest example of IoT as a service from Rogers, which has connected more than 1.7 million devices to its IoT network since 2008.

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