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Interviews

Water safety and security

A clean, reliable and safe water supply is critical to health and well-being. Tony O’Brien, Head of Enterprise Solutions at Siemens Building Technologies, describes why working collaboratively with the water industry, to harness a joined up safety and security strategy is vital for the nation’s essential water supplies.

He says: “The water industry faces a broad range of challenges in order to secure a viable and long-term competitive future. The key drivers are increasing turnover, reducing costs, improving operational efficiencies and developing a sustainable sector for the years ahead.”

Each day the UK water industry collects, treats and then supplies more than 17 billion litres of high quality water to domestic and commercial customers and then collects and treats over 16 billion litres of the resulting wastewaters, returning it safely to the environment.

Head of Enterprise Solutions at Siemens Building Technologies Tony O’Brien says: “Water supplies, a key element of the UK’s critical infrastructure, are vulnerable to natural and environmental hazards such as droughts and flooding and high risk threats, walk-in crime and vandalism, and the daily protection of people, buildings and assets. Reservoirs, mains, sewers and treatment works represent around three-quarters of all water industry assets. Water and sewerage companies also need pumps, vehicles, IT, remote monitoring, control systems and other essential equipment to be protected too. Damage or destruction to the UK’s water supply and infrastructure could threaten public health and possibly cause loss of life.

Water authorities are required to make provision for maintaining water supplies and sewerage services at all times. They need protection for their people, premises and processes to ensure security of supply and to meet these requirements Siemens has developed a specialist water sector team.

Tony says: “The water industry faces real operational challenges, but they can be reduced through the adoption of an integrated technology-based approach. And one that is supported through the help of experienced and knowledgeable technology partners who understand the specific requirements of a complex industry.”

“Asset management, the requirement for high-level protection, the strategic investment opportunities presented by the SEMD Programme, programme requirements as well as compliance with OFWAT national regulations and controls, all contribute to the drive to maximise operational effectiveness. The answer lies in a systematic approach; one that should include the development of a clear technological roadmap to drive a coherent, joined-up and long-term investment strategy – and one that includes safety and security at its core. “ continues Tony.

“From a technology perspective, investments in advanced, bespoke protection solutions that ensure security of supply, have the ability to integrate legacy systems and assist with business continuity will enhance the resilience of the service and improve asset management.”

Tony adds: “End-to-end solutions such as technological convergence deliver benefit by way of improved costs and the use of bespoke framework agreements to strengthen the procurement process. Adopting new technology, which enables access to and interpretation of essential data, as well as effective risk management strategies, are essential elements in the creation of a sustainable future for the sector. “

By working with utilities and helping companies to develop migration strategies so the benefits of new technology can be enabled, according to the firm, alongside the preservation of original system elements. Siemens says that it’s supporting a number of water companies to address the operational, protection, safety, compliance and future planning issues they face.

Water infrastructure systems are particularly vulnerable as they extend over vast areas and are often in remote locations. A recent example of how Siemens has assisted with securing assets across these wide area perimeters is the introduction of new solar-powered perimeter protection. It is not only difficult and expensive to safeguard large perimeters and fence lines, but the requirement for costly duct networks, together with the associated power supplies and cabling infrastructure places significant demands on available resources.

Anglian Water is the first water company to benefit from the new solar-powered electronic perimeter protection, Si-IR and SiFence. Si-IR is a wireless networked solar-powered active infra red beam detection system and Si-Fence is a solar-powered fence mounted perimeter intrusion detection system. Both technologies operate on a light source, not just sunlight, remaining powered for up to three months – even in total darkness. In addition to safeguarding assets, they are designed to improve green credentials and assist with carbon-reduction programmes. This saved Anglian Water construction time and money as there was no need to install civils, power and communications. And will also provide savings on future running costs.

Mindful of SEMD requirements, the Siemens’ specialist team’s primary role is to invest time and resource in understanding the particular drivers of a sector which delivers a unique service that the nation relies upon.

About Siemens Building Technologies Division

Visit www.siemens.com/buildingtechnologies.


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