Dec 04, 2018

Clear Mind with the Cloud

Clear Mind with the Cloud

Historically, most supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems have relied on a single centralized computer and end-to-end 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. Today, 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. The software package required to run such a system is expensive and requires costly annual upgrades. All of this comes with the added cost associated with navigating IT issues, maintaining the physical system and ensuring that proper cybersecurity is in place, knowing that critical infrastructure continues to be a significant target for cyberattacks.

Moving to a cloud-based SCADA system backed by Metropolitan’s decades of expertise eliminates all of these issues and makes SCADA attainable by municipalities and utilities of every size. The company’s cloud-based SCADA technology eliminates the up-front costs associated with hardware, software and annual upgrades. This 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 runs on “the cloud”—a series of secure and well-supported computer servers hosted by Amazon Web Services that boasts more than 99.9% uptime—freeing utilities from the burden of maintaining a centralized system. With complete geographic redundancy created through multiple server sites around the U.S., maintenance downtime is virtually eliminated. Also, because Amazon is continuously updating all hardware and software, there is no degradation and no associated annual fees. 

MetroCloud technology prioritizes security to ensure that all systems and facilities are as safe as possible. In addition to military-grade data encryption, virtual private network tunnels create restricted access like those found in an exclusive gated community. This means operators can access the wells, lift stations, water towers and booster systems from any internet-enabled device while simultaneously preventing access to data by unauthorized personnel. This constant ability to connect with the system means the system can also communicate with with operators from anywhere. 

After establishing a preferred contact protocol, a SCADA system will push alarms in the order of prioritized contacts. The alarms can be acknowledged from any device or computer, but if action is not taken within a selected specified time, the cycle of alarm notifications will begin again to ensure the issue is properly managed. 

Though a one-size-fits-all approach works for some, it 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, the company can adjust the system to accommodate the needs of any site. The monthly fee is based on the number of sites rather than the cost of hardware, software upgrades and IT service calls. 

Report generation is made possible by working with staff to meet needs.  Programmers will work with the local team to establish all report criteria, and the SCADA system will handle everything from there.

The SCADA system minimizes downtime, maximizes data storage and communication, and makes system management easier at a cost that is attainable for communities of every size.

About the author

You can reach Metropolitan Ind. Inc. at www.metrocloud.us or 815.886.9200.

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