Digital wastewater maps future for sewage management

A wastewater intelligence solution is helping improve community health in a partnership first between Scottish Water and Kando. Water Industry Journal spoke to Dr Andrew Engeli, CSO at Kando, about the shared vision for a smart networked wastewater system.

*As Published on Water Industry

Wastewater treatment is a priority for the UK government.

Raw sewage from storm overflows and harmful wastewater emissions are an escalating problem, with water utilities often under-equipped to respond to the resulting public health challenges.

Effective wastewater analysis can have a game-changing impact on community health, using technology to monitor the spread of viral diseases or measure the impact of specific community health initiatives.

Kando is implementing its cutting-edge wastewater management technology across hundreds of assets for Scottish Water, using a real-time alert system capable of unlocking a range of actionable insights.

As Steven Boon, Wastewater Treatment Area Manager for Scottish Water, says, “We were impressed by the offering, experience, and professionalism from Kando which should enable us to bring this wastewater treatment works back into compliance.”

Kando is an Israeli-based company with a proven track record in the field of wastewater intelligence, having spearheaded Israel’s efforts to track COVID-19 and its variants in collaboration with Israel’s Ministry of Health.

So just how novel is its approach?

Andrew explains, “We’re at the forefront of AI and IoT innovation in the field of wastewater analysis providing software that, through automation, can generate instant insights into what’s really going on inside urban sewage systems, helping municipal authorities pinpoint how and where they need to intervene to manage water networks most effectively, to improve public health and protect the environment.

He adds, “With wastewater quality a growing health and environmental concern, we help government authorities accurately detect and pinpoint the sources of reduced wastewater quality thanks to a first-of-its-kind hyper-localised comparative wastewater quality analysis, helping them track down entities and organisations violating hygiene regulations.

“We are working with partners, investors, and clients to improve public and environmental health all over the world. We also support water utilities, which bear the ultimate responsibility for the quality of the wastewater that their networks emit, in bringing their technology up to date and fitting it for purpose through AI-powered big data analytics and predictions, reducing risk and mitigating legal and compliance concerns.”

Kando’s solution will provide Scottish Water – for the first time – with the ability to know when and where contamination is accumulating in their assets, helping them ensure that all assets are working properly.

Andrew says, “This will have a multifaceted effect increasing levels of regulation compliance, policy observance, and cost reduction.

“In the UK today, there is no other technology that provides such a holistic solution to water utilities, implementing state-of-the-art AI technology in wastewater and subsequently providing unique value and visibility into what is happening in a water network. Once a water utility has access to this invaluable information and insights, they can manage their assets and networks more efficiently and save costs.”

In December 2021, Kando and Israel’s Ministry of Health (MoH) combined in a unique project using wastewater analysis to track COVID-19 throughout Israel’s sewage system, the first time a single technology provider has provided such instant insights uniformly across an entire country. The partnership used data drawn from within the collection network to support accurate COVID-19 outbreak mapping across service areas.

Andrew explains, “Kando’s solution uses real-time, in-network condition monitoring and cloud-based data analysis to ensure findings represent viral loads accurately. Live data inputs from in-sewer IoT units are used to determine when effluent contamination might compromise results, preventing automated sampling when conditions are not ideal. Working with lab and deployment partners, Kando provided the MoH with geographically defined outbreak data, pinpointing infection hotspots via a live online dashboard.

“The partnership enabled officials to aggregate data from every population centre with more than 20,000 residents (85% of Israel’s population), gaining a full picture of COVID-19 rates without requiring individual tests. This method indicated outbreaks and their locations up to 6 days ahead of conventional testing, providing an early warning system to anticipate outbreak waves and detect variants.”

In short, using wastewater intelligence helped authorities monitor spread of the disease without relying on the population to come forward and get tested.

Scottish Water’s system will ‘hit the ground running’, collecting raw data from strategic locations on the network. Together with historical data, it will create a unique base line of predicted behaviour and identify abnormalities, correlating them to types of industrial effluent and “pinpointing the source of the exact location of each behaviour that impacts the asset”.

Andrew adds, “Our system can provide insights into the source of the events in the network, the severity of the event, its timespan, and eventually, after characterising it, the type. Most of all, it will allow the water utility to identify the source and take the relevant actions to stop it from occurring or re-occurring.”

Turnaround time on testing depends on the nature of the event being analysed and its findings. Some insights can be shown instantly through a real-time online dashboard, while lab-analysed results are typically turned around within several days, and within 36 hours at a minimum.

Andrew points out that further down the line, Scottish Water can leverage Kando’s technology and its expertise to tackle a range of questions whose answers might be found in water systems: detecting future pandemics, overcoming high levels of drug use, reflecting the quality of the population’s diets, monitoring wastewater being reused for agricultural needs, and more.

He says, “Using the Kando system will allow Scottish Water to manage their assets differently, as by harnessing the data, they will know 24/7 what, when, and where every abnormality is accruing, and prevent it from happening. This will allow the asset to perform in compliance with regulation and also optimise its efficiency and reduce the overall costs of operation.”

Looking forward, it’s hoped that Kando’s network intelligence can mitigate problems like pollution, water waste and climate change and boost real-time decision-making. Andrew concludes, “These capabilities are only scratching the surface. As investment into the industry increases, more capabilities will be discovered to further support healthy communities and environments.”

Dr. Engeli was previously Deputy Director for Innovation at the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) and Deputy Director for EMHP at the UK Health Security Agency.

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