March 1, 2022

Through Four Generations of SCADA, MetroCloud Rises Above in the Water & Wastewater Industry

History of SCADA and Affect on Pumps, Water, & Wastewater Monitoring

March 1, 2022
By Martin Hawrysko, Metropolitan Industries, Inc.

In every direction, technological changes continue to reshape how society consumes and shares information. While the pace of change impacts each line of work differently, the consequences have created new opportunities for improved processes. The water and wastewater industry, typically left behind in terms of advancement, has been no exception.

At Metropolitan Industries, change is something we have always embraced throughout our 65-year history – as demonstrated by our success as an innovator and leader within the water and wastewater industry. An example of such has been our involvement with SCADA from its onset and through each adaptation since. With the emergence of the cloud and Internet of Things (IoT) came the possibility of exploring their potential implementation with the proven concept of SCADA.

After much research and development, Metropolitan launched MetroCloud, pioneering the use of cloud-based SCADA amongst water and wastewater operators nationally. MetroCloud successfully implements the full benefits of traditional SCADA while eliminating its most common drawbacks. The accessibility, reliability, and efficiencies of MetroCloud has made it a valuable addition to Metropolitan’s custom designed and manufactured packaged pumping and water processing systems.

To appreciate the full advantages and benefits that come with MetroCloud, it is worth reviewing just how far SCADA has evolved from its early days. While the use of early SCADA provided several benefits, enough obstacles existed that gave many municipalities pause when either maintenance or an upgrade was necessary.

The Early Generations of SCADA

The first generation of SCADA, commonly referred to as the monolithic era, consisted of independent small computer systems without network connectivity. The reliance on leased telecommunication equipment was the sole means for sharing information through the use of a Wide Area Network (WAN). While this setup supported redundancy by allowing backup mainframes to connect to each other at the bus level, it was neither efficient nor cost effective. Today, this setup is deemed unserviceable and has been largely phased out.

The implementation of local-area network (LAN) infrastructure made the second generation of SCADA, the distributed era, more practical since it allowed for multiple stations to be connected – though it came at a high price. The radio frequencies to support the sharing of information between stations resulted in high upfront costs in addition to expensive computer hardware and software, which required constant maintenance to prevent communication from becoming unstable. Disruptions were prone to happening, sometimes weeks at a time, due to hardware and equipment failures, in addition to external factors, such as lightning strikes. Communication was often very slow, which contributed to lengthy delays to operator notification.

The arrival of the Internet and network architecture sparked the third generation of SCADA, the networked era, allowing stations to more effectively communicate and share data. This era introduced the use of modern ethernet/IP communication, ridding the reliance on problematic radio configurations. This helped eased costs while supporting the implementation of more complex SCADA systems with expanded reach across larger geographical distances. While significantly faster and more reliable, this approach still relied on expensive computer hardware and software that was vulnerable to security threats if not properly setup or maintained.

Today’s SCADA Levels Up via the Cloud

A common denominator throughout the first three generations of SCADA was hardware. With the arrival of cloud computing and Internet of Things (IoT) came the ability to do away with SCADA servers and all the headaches they entail. With today’s fourth generation of SCADA, the cloud generation, the SCADA platform is hosted on cloud-based servers. Fast and reliable, the wireless communication and expanded reach of cloud SCADA is possible through the use of cellular modems and firewalls in order to guarantee the safe traversal of your data from the ground to the cloud. By using private IP addresses and secure encrypted connections, we ensure your data gets from point-to-point as securely as possible.

Leading the way in the adaptation of cloud SCADA within the water and wastewater industry is MetroCloud, providing the most accessible and practical SCADA option ever imagined. With everything 100% cloud-based, concern over aging hardware or equipment failures are a thing of the past. With system maintenance and software updates handled by MetroCloud, municipalities are no longer tasked with the burden of expensive IT costs or excessive downtimes.

MetroCloud’s low overhead and leverage of cloud software significantly lowers operating costs, providing ease of entry with low startup costs and a low monthly fee to make remote cloud SCADA truly viable for municipalities in need of an upgrade. MetroCloud can be used anywhere, from existing controls to newly designed systems. From a single booster system that monitors water pressure to complete distribution systems for an entire city or town, MetroCloud can be integrated into just about any pumping or water processing application – from treatment and supply to collection and transport.

The user interface of MetroCloud was strategically designed by experts in the pumping and water processing field and specifically developed for water and wastewater operators. Its responsive design adapts to any sized screen, making it highly intuitive for day-to-day use from any preferred device. The added reliability and efficiency provided by MetroCloud minimizes the potential for downtime while putting operators in the position to make the most informed decisions possible, at any time and from any place.

An Added Emphasis Towards Security

As the news of the day often reminds us, security is a legitimate concern when it comes to new technological advances. Acknowledging the threat of potential breaches and stolen data, MetroCloud was built with the implementation of a multi-layered defense approach commonly labeled in the IT industry as “defense-in-depth.”

This appropriately named approach is a sophisticated process that casts a cover-to-cover safety net to protect critical water and wastewater systems against a variety of security threats. Features such as multifactor authentication and password-protected VPN access ensure that only designated users can access valuable data. The ramifications of a single set of login credentials falling into the wrong hands is now a concern of the past.

As cyber attacks and those behind them are continually on the chase, MetroCloud is poised to stay ahead of the threats with regularly security maintenance updates. End users can rest assured their cloud SCADA infrastructure stays current without having to lift a finger.

The multi-layered defense-in-depth approach ensures that security will not be a recurring problem that inhibits the advantages provided by the cloud.

All Benefits without Compromise

For municipalities ready for an upgrade, MetroCloud’s low barrier of entry makes it the most accessible, while its unparalleled set of features and state-of-the-art security makes it the most complete and capable SCADA option for the remote monitoring and control of water and wastewater.

With the fourth generation of SCADA becoming the new normal, MetroCloud will continue to pioneer the way. After recently logging our 500th installation – and with many more in queue – MetroCloud is proving to be another successful demonstration of the innovation by Metropolitan Industries, much to the continued benefit of the water and wastewater industry.