Early Warnings Enhance Water Security and Provide Faster Crisis Response
Optimal Sensor Placement/SPOT
Several elements of Sandia’s research revolve around the optimal design and management of Contamination Warning Systems (CWSs). A well-designed CWS protects drinking water systems by identifying a significant range of contaminants early enough to reduce public health and economic consequences of a contamination event. In conjunction with other tools such as physical monitoring, CWSs use sensors to detect drinking water contaminants. Sensor placement optimization is an important component of CWSs, particularly for large water distribution systems that can include thousands of miles of mostly underground pipe.
Sandia, in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Argonne National Laboratory, and the University of Cincinnati, provides support for CWS networks with its Sensor Placement Optimization Toolkit (SPOT). SPOT facilitates the creation of sensor networks that can provide early warnings for multiple contaminants within a given water distribution system.
The toolkit provides discrete optimization tools that ascertain the number and optimal locations for contaminant sensors while minimizing monitoring cost and response time. SPOT also facilitates improvements to distribution system management and can be used to simulate the effects of different response times to a contamination incident.
Proven Results and Unique Advantages in Protecting Water Supplies
Containment Warning System (would be particularly effective if sample sensor network locations could be overlaid on the system)
In a 2006 Sensor Network Optimization, SPOT was used to design sensor placements for eight large U.S. cities and execute actual placement in four of those. The estimated reduction on fatalities from high consequence attacks on drinking water was 48%, with a $19B median reduction in estimated value of lives lost due to high consequence attacks.
SPOT also incorporates attributes for each water distribution system, including utility-specific system network models, and permits the user to examine trade-offs among different network designs by integrating customized performance objectives such as population-based health measures, volume of contaminated water consumed, and time to detection. The toolkit also provides optimization techniques that can function on limited computer memory, addressing runtime restrictions associated with end-user computer systems.
SPOT has additional application possibilities, including protecting air networks in sensitive buildings, detecting intruders in road networks, and providing physical site security protection.