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BIONS, a more sustainable and smarter management of the water network

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  • BIONS, more sustainable and smarter management of the water network
    Andratx, Mallorca.
  • Integrated water cycle management is key for our planet's future. It is not only about supplying water, but doing it as efficiently as possible.

About the entity

ACCIONA
The water business of ACCIONA concentrates on water treatment and reverse osmosis desalination, a technology in which it is the world leader.

Published in:

SWM Monthly  frontpage
· 74
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Themes

Companies that, like ACCIONA, work on integrated water cycle management, also have the responsibility and the duty to work towards this objective.

With this strong commitment in mind, ACCIONA has put BIONS (Business Intelligence Of Network Solutions) into operation, a cloud-based data intelligence platform, which integrates several sources to provide value-intelligence to the business and improve the management of the water supply system through water efficiency.


Network health

A comprehensive image of the service and the network

BIOS offers a comprehensive in-depth vision of the service and the water supply network, and the "health" of the network.

The tool continuously records all events taking place in the water supply network. It integrates several data sources: smart water meters for domestic use, district metered area (DMA) sensors, management systems for users and incidents, tank levels, GIS, meteorological data or calendar variables. The result is a platform with a graphic and mobile interface, where you can view what is happening in the water distribution network in real time.

Its architecture comprises the following modules: data intake, cloud gateways, data lake, algorithm and machine learning management, and visualisation.

This centralised information is afterwards used in decision making, as well as to define strategic actions and practices that optimise the performance of facilities.

ACCIONA has put BIONS into operation, a cloud-based data intelligence platform which improves the management of the water supply

BIONS allows detecting, predicting and analysing incidents in the water supply network such as leaks, breaks, faulty assets or problems with telemetry or operations

It helps us understand network operations better, optimise supply planning and service levels, and thereby ensure the best water access for citizens.

One of the main objectives of BIONS is to improve response times to leaks, breaks, and pressure failures in the water supply network.

To do that, the platform manages and shows all the information that helps prevent and avoid important water cuts, and identify the causes of dirty water complaints or issues with the supply, among others. Ultimately, it allows identifying failures in the facilities before they occur.

On the other hand, BIONS performs analysis and management of water levels in tanks and deposits. This way, it can track the status of events (pressures, tank levels, etc.) and anomalies from beginning to end, thus ensuring enhanced water services for users.


Water flows

Predictive models

Furthermore, thanks to the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning technology, BIONS enables going one step further, anticipating leaks and other anomalies, predicting the demand by tracking patterns and trends, and solving supply problems in a preventive manner.

For example, the demand can be predicted based on an estimate of the minimum night flow rate; non-revenue water can be analysed based on algorithms to calculate the water balance by district; even potential fraud-theft in the water network can be detected.

Incorporating artificial intelligence enables going even further in terms of the analysis and management of services and water facilities. With BIONS, data are turned into knowledge and future actions, achieving savings thanks to the early detection of hidden or underground leaks, improving response times to leaks, breaks and incidents in the water supply network, and ultimately ensuring greater water service efficiency.

It is a step beyond the classical approach focused on mathematical solutions and daily operations planning, towards a new model based on the recognition of patterns and machine learning.

BIOS offers a comprehensive in-depth vision of the service and the water supply network, and the "health" conditions in the network

Advantages of a smart water network

A platform such as BIONS offers undeniable advantages in terms of efficiency of the operations and maintenance of the network, shortening the cycles of repair and incident resolution.

It is a multi-channel platform, which can be accessed and operated from mobile devices, tablets and personal computers.

Because it is cloud-based it is fully scalable and can grow in parallel with the technological evolution of the network and the systems installed.

Another important aspect is its flexibility, since it can be implemented in systems with different levels of technological development and different control and sensor systems. The tool can be adapted to the information existing in each service.

On the other hand, the integration of the BIONS platform with the GIS positioning system has the advantage of providing a user interface based on a hydraulic model of the network, something that guarantees that the user experience will be swift and adoption easy.

One of the objectives of BIONS is to improve response times to leaks, breaks, and pressure failures in the water supply network


Data visualisation

Cybersecurity

Smart water projects use technologies and tools for more flexible, competitive and efficient management. That requires better alignment between OT and IT networks and the cloud, to manage an increasing number of data and signs, something that entails greater security risks.

The BIONS cybersecurity architecture ensures not only protection from potential attacks to service remote control systems (industrial security), but also the security of data (industrial and transactional), of the IT network, and of the cloud platform.

A core component of security is the OT network. It includes the protection of automation and control networks for the water facilities against unauthorised access, as well as the control of all communications between the remote control system, the IT network and external networks, and the cloud, including transmission of encrypted data and authentication of communication nodes.

With BIONS, data are turned into knowledge and future actions, achieving savings thanks to the early detection of leaks

The result has been the implementation of a series of elements, like firewalls and filtering devices, industrial firewalls, network segmentation, profiles to access systems and/or segments of the network, to ensure security from attacks to the BIONS platform.

Similarly, we have implemented data treatment, validation and flow policies, to ensure compliance with data protection regulations for blocks of sensitive information such as user data or employee data, among others.

Cybersecurity risks are successfully reduced taking into account security criteria from the platform design phase, through the implementation of a comprehensive security architecture concept, integrating appropriate technologies and subsequent improvements in processes and measures dealing with the organisation, access and users' roles in systems. And BIONS is an example of this.


Water balance

Detecting incidents

Moreover, BIONS has a continuous monitoring system/service that generates automatic alarms in case of incidents or failures. This applies to the performance of the technology platform, as well as potential errors that may occur in the process of data loading to the cloud, during the execution of artificial intelligence models or algorithms, data integrity in the data lake, etc. Also to incidents and alarms during the operation of the water service itself (leaks or critical incidents in the network, alarms due to the prediction of problems to satisfy a demand, tank levels, etc.)

In all of these cases, the alarm is shown in the platform and the person responsible receives a notification. To respond to any incident ACCIONA provides support 24x7, taking any pertinent corrective actions. 

A platform such as BIONS offers undeniable advantages in terms of efficiency of the operations and maintenance of the network

ACCIONA's commitment to technology

The BIONS project shows ACCIONA's commitment to technology as a way to optimise the management of water supply services.

During a first pilot phase that concluded in December 2019, a complete BIONS platform was implemented in two locations in Spain: Andratx and Zafra.

This led to putting in practice the model that integrated transactional data sources and remote control systems in the data lake of the business intelligence platform. In addition, descriptive and predictive artificial intelligence models for the operation and management of the network and water efficiency models to estimate water flow, detect and predict breaks, losses and incidents in the network, and analysis of water consumption-billing, have been defined and developed.

BIONS is not just technology or digitalisation, it is an initiative that provides real and tangible benefits to the business

Currently the transactional sources from all water services in Spain have been integrated in the BIONS data lake, and integration with remote control systems for these services is under way, to be followed by the deployment of artificial intelligence models for network operation and management.

The end goal is for BIONS to be the smart management platform for all of ACCIONA's water supply services nationally and internationally.

Industry 4.0 is already a reality for water companies. A revolution that results from digitalization and the adoption of new technologies, which enable improved connectivity and access to information, turning it into knowledge.

And it is in this context where BIONS, a technological project, but clearly business oriented, seeks to transform and improve water supply services.

BIONS is not just technology or digitalisation, it is an initiative that provides real and tangible benefits to the business and, as ultimate beneficiaries, citizens receive a better service.

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