Cowithone’s innovative underground water pipe management systems bring forward progress in smart city

신태섭 기자l승인2021.08.24l수정2021.08.24 15:35

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▲ Cowithone / CEO Yoon Sang-jo

(PowerKorea) Smart city is one of the new deal projects of South Korean government set to start from Busan and Sejong. People’s interest in smart city is growing fast alongside advancement of AI and big data and it is no surprise that the Smart City Online Tour held last month attracted many cities including Bucheon, Daejeon, Anyang and Gangneung which showed great interest especially in the water-themed Busan Eco Delta City that displayed how a future city would look like. Instead of the conventional water supplying and sewage systems, Busan Eco Delta City is to use the most of these cutting edge smart technologies available now. 

Water pipes underground in South Korea should be changed after 20 years or 30 years maximum which is a striking contrast with those of the US and other advanced countries where they last up to 70 years. Quality of the pipes is not that different, experts say, but the reason one lasts up to 30 years and another to 70 years is because of the inefficient management. 

“Basically, underground facilities should be used for more than 50 years. But things can happen such as erosion or damage during a digging construction. So it is efficient to lay the pipes with preventive devices or a system at the initial stage so that we can take measures in advance” said K-Water Sihwa Agency deputy head Gwak Jun-kun at the Korea Smart Water Grid International Conference held at Songdo Conventia late last year.

To see the importance of efficient water management system, Busan Eco Delta City has joined hands with Cowithone to introduce an IT-based water management system than can help managers prevent damages and detect leakage and ground subsidence in advance. Here are Cowithone’s three innovative smart underground water pipe management systems:

1. Smart pipeline system
The existing leakage system detects leakage by using flowmeter, water pressure gauge or sonobuoy but it generates additional time and cost to locate the exact point of the leak. Cowithone’s smart pipeline system, on the other hand, alarms and shows managers the damaged pipeline locations in photo images as well as real time excavation work status as each junction of pipes is attached with a leakage sensor. 

2. Ground subsidence detection
According to the Under Ground Safety Act, we must check sinkholes every 5 years by using the existing ground penetrating radar but the device is limited to sinkholes sized more than 3 meters. Cowithone’s ground subsidence detection system, on the other hand, installs prevention sheets on the upper part of the pipes and smart balls on junctions of the pipes to let the managers know the exact location when a sinkhole even as less as 30 centimeters happens to be. 

This system was recognized as an excellent research and development technology in July 2020 by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups and it is installed in the industrial water pipes of Samsung Electronics in Hwaseong. The system has been scheduled to be installed in the waterlines between Boryeong and Buyeo from August this year and in Busan Eco Delta City from next year.

3. Damage prevention system
Cowithone’s pipe damage prevention system detects utilities buried 10 meters underground and lets both managers and excavators know in real time when damage occurs or an illegal excavation is carried on. The system detects excavation before damage is done by using detection line-loaded sheets 30 to 60 centimeter above the pipelines. The manager in charge is then dispatched to the site within 2 hours to check the scale of the damage and charge recovery fees to the responsible alongside on-site repairing. If the excavator downloaded the app on his smartphone, the system sends a warning beforehand or an alarm when damage is done unknowingly. 

These of Cowithone’s excellent systems proved efficiency and cost saving in the 14 kilometer waterline of Songsan GC at Songsan Green City in Hwaseong: damages done during the gas, communication, electricity and heating constructions in 158 locations and the systems helped managers detect and repair the damages in speed. As a result, K-Water spent not a single penny as the responsible bodies covered the fees. According to Gu Ja-yong, professor at University of Seoul, using Cowithone’s systems can save more than 75% of the cost when applied at the initial stage of the construction. 

“As far as I know, the systems we have developed cannot be found in advanced countries yet. In other words, we are ambitious to pioneer overseas market also. It is regretful though that it takes around 2 to 5 years for our systems to be applied to the construction sites due to budgeting and processing of government offices. Busan Eco Delta City decided on 2018 has not even dug its first shovel yet as well as Sejong Smart City decided in 2019. We hope our systems will fully prove their excellence when things get speed-up” says Yoon Sang-jo, CEO of Cowithone.

PowerKorea is an official partner of Herald Corporation. The magazine is distributed to the KOTRA business centers in the world. PowerKorea publishes latest news of government, Samsung, Hyundai and LG and endeavors to serve a platform to engage with people around the world.


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