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Written by Owain JonesMBA in Sustainability student at University of Saint Francis

Some things that people may take for granted on a day-to-day basis is the availability of freshwater. Our world is made up of massive amounts of water, however, the majority of this is salt water, about 97.5%. The remaining 2.5% is freshwater but only 30% of these freshwater sources are groundwater, the main source of water for human consumption. For a world population that is continually growing and consuming more and more resources, this staggeringly small amount of available freshwater cannot sustain it. This is highlighted by the fact that by 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in areas with an extremely scarce water supply (UN Water Statistics). Thus, a need is created to be able to better utilize our current freshwater resources and improve the sustainability of these resources. The root of water resource sustainability is water conservation, preached and advocated for all over the world.

International Business Machines, most commonly referred to as IBM, has been developing computers and technologies for businesses for many years and has grown into one of the largest companies in the US. Currently, IBM has pushed a business solutions focus that involves analytics, or consolidating massive amounts of data into a meaningful pattern to solve a problem. IBM has used its analytics in conjunction with the Arad Group, a world leader in water metering technologies, to build algorithms that help water companies by providing them vital information. What these algorithms can do is provide precise indications of abnormalities in the system, like irregular consumption and possible leakages or breaks, potentially saving millions of gallons of water. It also gives indications to the water companies whether or not the consumption abnormalities, reported by the water metering system, are due to regular occurrences, like a family out of town, or due to an actual leak. This allows for the water companies to better focus on water conservation and management, instead of wasting time on false technician visits. These analytics have shown a possible reduction in the amount of technician visits in half.

Being able to better respond to potential problems in the water system allows for the water companies to provide much improved water conservation. This then allows for the sustainability of our population to reach new heights, where water conservation is being addressed at the infrastructure level, not only at the consumption level. Wasting water is something that occurs all over the world and wasted water by water companies is something not generally thought about, even though burst water mains occur relatively often.

Wasted water through the infrastructure has been a major problem due to the age of many of the systems. For example, in Washington D.C. the average age of a water main is 77 years old and being this old certainly leads to breaks and pressure problems that can lead to the loss of huge amounts of water. IBM analytics are allowing DC Water, the provider of water to the Washington D.C. area, to respond and solve problems before they even occur. This is done through the algorithms that compile the massive amounts of data that can assemble where the water main that is most likely to break is.

Technology has been able to be used to create a more efficient system in utilizing one of our most precious natural resources, water. Reducing the waste that occurs in our lives has proven to be one of the most prominent aids towards living in a sustainable world. Water conservation is always an important issue and being able to conserve water at the level to which most individuals have no control over, the water companies, provides a complete water sustainability initiative, from the source to the consumer.


IBM DC Water YouTube Video:



UN Water Statistics


IBM Analytics Help Arad Group Manage Big Data for Water Meter Solutions:

Arad Group

IBM Water Management