August 9, 2018

Cloud Based Water Monitoring Systems Provide Benefits of Next Generation SCADA without the Drawbacks

Cloud SCADA Water Control for Cities and Municipalities

Let’s imagine two unique, but related scenarios for the typical water operator. In the first, you’ve left work for the day, enjoyed dinner at home, and settled in for the evening. You assume everything is functioning correctly with the water system, but you have no real way of knowing. A few hours later, after dark, you get a call. There’s an issue and it’s already beginning to affect members of your community. You’re not quite sure what it is, but you know one thing: You’ll have to leave your house before you can even diagnose the problem because the central computer for your supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system is kept onsite.

In the second scenario, everything is very much the same, but you don’t have to wonder about the status of the water system because you can check real-time information right on your laptop, tablet, or smartphone. You also know that, if something goes wrong, the SCADA system will begin to push a detailed alarm to your mobile device, allowing you to acknowledge the alarm, understand the problem, and determine the best course of action remotely.
Both scenarios rely on a SCADA system, and Metropolitan has a solution for both options, but the second scenario is much more ideal. And, with Metropolitan’s Cloud-Based SCADA technology, the second scenario is presently available for utilities of every size.

The Downside of Traditional SCADA

Historically, most SCADA systems, especially those in smaller communities, have relied on a single centralized computer and end to end (point to point) telemetry to communicate between all connected sites. For a time, relying on this setup and the dedicated pair of wires that carried all communication was the best option for maintaining a municipal water system. Even now with several communication options, there are considerable drawbacks to this approach.

The central supervisory computer and individual remote location systems represent a significant upfront investment and, like any piece of technology hardware, would begin to degrade on day one and eventually need replacement. With that, the software package required to run everything is considerably expensive and requires costly annual upgrades. Of course, all of this also comes with the added cost associated with navigating IT issues, maintaining the physical system, and ensuring that proper cybersecurity is in place being that critical infrastructure continues to be a significant target for cyber-attacks.

It’s Good to Put Your Head in the Cloud

Moving to a cloud based SCADA system backed by Metropolitan’s expertise eliminates all of these issues and makes next generation SCADA attainable by municipalities and utilities of every size. Right from the start, Metropolitan’s Cloud-Based SCADA technology eliminates the up-front costs associated with hardware, software and annual upgrades. Yes, that means the expensive, centralized computer that holds all your data and presents a significant security risk if something should happen to it, becomes a thing of the past.

Everything will run on “the cloud” – that is, a series of computer servers hosted by Amazon Web Services and boasting over 99.9% uptime – freeing you from the burden of maintaining a centralized system. With complete geographic redundancy created through multiple server sites around the US, maintenance downtime is also virtually eliminated. Plus, because Amazon is continuously updating all software, there’s no degradation and no associated annual fees.

To help ensure that all systems and facilities are as safe as possible, MetroCloud technology prioritizes security. In addition to military grade data encryption, VPN tunnels create restricted access like what you might find in a gated community. This means you can access your well and tower or booster system from any Internet enabled device while simultaneously preventing access to your data by unauthorized personnel. Naturally, this constant ability to connect with the system means the system can also communicate with you.

After establishing your preferred contact protocol, a SCADA system will push alarms in the order of your prioritized contacts. For added convenience, these alarms can be acknowledged from your device or computer but, if action is not taken within a specified time of your choosing, the cycle of alarm notifications will begin again to ensure the issue is properly managed. In other words, the system is customizable.

Our Cloud, Your Specific Needs

Though a one size fits all approach works for some, this often makes SCADA systems seem out of reach for smaller municipalities and utilities. In addition to offering 100% of the SCADA capabilities available with traditional systems, we can adjust the system to accommodate your unique needs and number of sites. The monthly fee is based on the number of sites rather than the cost of hardware, software upgrades, and IT service calls. If reporting is required, we can take that feature out of your hands entirely with customized report generation. Our programmers will work with your team to establish all report criteria and the SCADA system will handle everything from there.

In short, Metropolitan’s Cloud-Based SCADA system minimizes downtime, maximizes data storage and communication, and makes system management easier than ever at a cost that is attainable for communities of every size.

Thinking About Upgrading Your Job Site's Water Monitoring?

We’d team of pump system and control experts would love to discuss your municipal or commercial application and how MetroCloud can improve your SCADA water monitoring capabilities.

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