How many water quality sensors you need in your network?

  • Last Update
  • November 30, 2016

After taking the decision to install water quality sensors in yours network an analysis will be required to decide how many. Sensor stations requires an investment that will limit how many of them can be installed depending in the budget of the company and the rewards of installing them.

One approach would be to decide a just budget and base on it, calculate the maximum number of sensor that can be installed. Despite it is a realistic approach, it is worth to ask, what about if for 10% more of the investment, the network coverage to detect contaminant intrusion is increased in 25%? Would you be adding 10% more to your budget? What about if the network coverage increased in 30% or if the detection time can be reduced in certain percentage? Following this perspective, the next question would be how much improvement/reward we would get if we complete our budget to acquire one more sensor? The same ide can bring us to the point to ask how much improvement/reward we would be losing if we get rid of one of the sensor in our budget? Answering this kind of questions requires a representation of the improvement/rewards received as a function of the number of sensors installed.

Deciding a budget a priori without considering the improvement/rewards received as a function of the number of sensors installed won´t lead us to a good decision. Despite an initial tentative budget can be decided, both aspects should be combined together before taking a final decision. The improvements/rewards received will be expressed in terms of the objectives considered for placing sensors: reducing the detection time of contaminant intrusion or water quality problems, protecting the population from the consumption of water under minimum quality requirements and maximizing the protection coverage in the network. These three objectives have to be combined with the additional objective of maintaining the cost in the frame of a budget that can be paid by the company. An excellent way to support the decision that has to be taking is the representation of all objectives in a Pareto front. For visualization purposes, it would be better to make 2D projections of the Pareto front in different charts combining the objectives we are analyzing. Water-Ing provides you a practical way to achieve this. As a user, you can add as many charts as you want and represent in each of them how one objective behaves with respect to any other as representing in the next images:

Representation of several Pareto projection charts

Water-Ing supports you in visualizing all aspects relative to a solution by showing simultaneously in all charts whatever solution you select. For example, if you select a solution from a chart representing de detection time vs the network coverage of the protection, the same solution will be shown as selected in the rest of charts you have created (detection time vs number of sensors, network coverage vs contaminated water consumed, etc.). In the previous image the red point represents the same solution selected at each of the Pareto projection charts. The selected solution is also shown in the network map to have a much better idea about the proposed location of sensor.

Another step that will help you in your analysis is highlights solution in your Pareto charts depending on the number of sensors they have. This way you can better appreciate the influence of having one or several sensors more (or less) in your solution.

Solutions with different number of sensors differentiated by color

You can create as many charts as desired with different visualization configuration in order to help you when selection your solution and the number of sensors you will have in your networks. If you use more than one screen, you can detach the chart from the application and move them to a different screen to expand the visualization capabilities.

Now you can select the most convenient solution for you. You can visualize the relevance of having more sensors (or less) in your solution and take a better decision about what the budget should be. In case your budget can not be extended under any circumstances, the analysis will still be valid for estimating how much you need for a realistic protection of your water network. It is true that some experience will definitively help in taking these kinds of decisions. Do not hesitate in contacting us for bringing our experience and supporting you.

Next steps

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