Across the globe, urban populations are growing rapidly, climate change is an increasing threat, and global sewage and wastewater management systems are ageing. In combination, these three factors are putting enormous pressure on sewage and wastewater infrastructure, and if something isn’t done to mitigate the threat many municipalities are facing a ticking time bomb. Two companies, CTHINGS.CO and NID ApS , have joined forces to address the growing threat posed by inadequate infrastructure, introducing a deceptively simple solution – connected manhole covers – in order to monitor what is going on below ground level.
Cities and municipalities have long tried to monitor sewage lines but because they’re underground and access points have massive manhole covers it’s been very challenging. Very often, a connected device has been put down in the sewer and after two weeks someone has had to go down and manually take the SIM card out, put it in the system, and analyze it. They might have done this at a handful of locations for a few weeks, then moved the devices to a new location. This type of operation is labor intensive and doesn’t offer real time information or the kind of overall data that helps optimize a system in a real way. It isn’t very effective or streamlined, because there’s a big difference between collecting data samples and having data all the time in real time – it’s the difference between crawling and running.
Now, imagine a manhole has been connected for eight or ten months. You’ve been getting data and now you’ve got enough to do some real analysis. You can co-alate that data with information from the weather service and very soon the municipality can get an alarm days before the rain comes. You’ve got information that tells you rain is coming, that this particular area is going to be affected, which means you might well face flooding or other issues. With your connected manhole covers and the data generated you can now address the challenges before they happen, such as emptying the reserves at the wastewater plant to prepare for the overflow. The historical data allows you to create plans for what is coming, rather than just reacting in the moment.
Denmark’s NID ApS is the largest supplier of composite manhole covers in Scandinavia and has a very simple mission: offer the best manhole covers in existence. CTHINGS.CO brings very sophisticated and advanced technological know-how to the table, designing and developing cutting edge end-to-end IoT solutions. By combining their particular strengths, the two companies are able to offer a modern connected manhole cover that can sense what is happening below street level and relay that information to authorities in real time.
“Today, hydraulic systems and theories and models are used to understand what is happening in the sewage systems, but these leave a lot of unknowns,” says Niclas Rønne, CEO at NID ApS. “Connected manhole covers tell you, in a very simple and easy way, when the water rises, where it is rising, and potentially how it’s rising. This is great value in terms of the environment because when you have big rainfalls and thus overflow. Right now, we accept the fact that there actually will be overflow because it would be too big and expensive to design systems differently. As a result, we accept that when it rains the sewage water will flow into fields or lakes or our city streets.