Hong Kong Needs a Smarter System to Monitor Water Quality
The lead water incident happened in Hong Kong back in 2015 not only brought grave concerns to Hong Kong residents, but also tarnished Hong Kong’s image as a modern city. In fact, the incident was first reported by local residents. It showed there was a gap in the Government’s monitoring of water supply. The recent pandemic also underscored the importance of measuring viral load in wastewater. If the high viral load in the wastewater in some public estates can be detected on time, it may be easier to detect and locate the Cov-19 infection at an earlier time.
Currently the monitoring process starts with the collection of water samples at selected locations. Samples are then brought to labs for analysis. So there are several sources of delays: collection of samples, transportations of the samples to labs and testing. Not to mention it is highly manual and labour intensive. In times of crisis, lives will be saved if the time can be reduced in the monitoring process.
AI InnoBio Limited (AIIB), a Hong Kong startup, is working on a system that can monitor and detect impurities in clean and wastewater that is fast, portable and accurate. AIIB owns the exclusive right from a Israel image sensor company — Newsight Imaging in the APAC region to develop and distribute a smart spectrometer. The sensor inside the spectrometer is exceptionally sensitive. AIIB believes that this sensor technology can be applied in monitoring water quality. In theory, each impurity has a unique spectral signature. With a sufficiently accurate sensor, the smart spectrometer can detect these minute differences. By building the impurity model using Machine Learning, AIIB can classify the impurities and their concentration with high accuracy.
Currently the samples have to be collected and put in the spectrometer for analysis. But AIIB is working with an Israeli company to develop an apparatus that can be installed in running water. This way the monitoring process can be automated. Also the spectrometers will be linked to the internet, allowing the authority to monitor water quality in many locations remotely on a real time basis.
By deploying the smart spectrometers at the points of interest, water quality at pipes, reservoirs, tanks and streams can be monitored. Lethal substances will be detected and public health can be safeguarded.
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