Exclusive: Singapore’s high tech plans for its water network

Michael Toh, Director at PUB, discusses about tweeting showerheads and water taps.

Tweeting shower heads and water taps could be the future of water services in Singapore, a director from the country’s National Water agency has said. “I wish that before the pipe leaks and interrupts your supply, I get a tweet, [and] you get a tweet”, said Michael Toh, Director of Water Supply Network at PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency. “I think we are very close to it actually at this point in time”, he told GovInsider’s Strategic Futures Breakfast on Friday, supported by Dassault Systemes. Tech could also alert users about unnecessary water usage. “If you leave your tap open” and no one is at home “perhaps the tap should send an alert to us”, he continued; or “if you’re using excessive [water] during your shower, it gives you a buzz.” Toh believes that cheaper sensors and better analytics will boost efficiency in the sector. He is “excited” for “the proliferation of businesses in this area”, he noted. “Cheaper sensors [and] faster computing really will enable us to do our work in the field”, he said. In the future, “plumbers could have a diagnostic kit, putting perhaps a stethoscope on a pipe and knowing exactly what's going on”, he said. However, Toh is clear that although technology brings “a lot of upside”, it opens up services to critical infrastructure attacks. “There could be potential pitfalls and challenges. So on one hand we want to push the envelope, on the other hand we are also watching what's going on”, he said. PUB must be vigilant about cyber security. "We need to be careful when we adopt these technologies. Our main concern is to ensure a good and safe supply of water to our customers," he said. Toh and his team is working to ensure that they will not be “blindsided” by the innovative solutions that come with technology, he concluded. Michael Toh was speaking in a panel session on what will ensure Singapore remains success in 2050 during the GovInsider Strategic Futures Breakfast, created in partnership with Dassault Systemes. Image by Michaela Loheit, licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0