Why Smart Water, Smart City?
"Smart Water" is not just the latest marketing hype from technology vendors; several environmental, industry and governmental research reports have exposed the great need for upgrading the world's water infrastructure with innovative and smarter technology.
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Our passion for water runs deep and we are on a mission to promote technology innovations focused on solving the world’s water challenges. With all the Smart Cities discussions around the world, we are shocked that water infrastructure is often left out of the conversation. How can any community claim to be truly "smart" if they have not addressed their water infrastructure issues? We work with utilities, telecommunications and technology providers around the world to help bring Smart Water and Smart Cities together.
So what is Smart Water Infrastructure?
Sensor technology, automation and control devices, and data analytics software throughout the infrastructure system are all needed to make a system "smart." Water utilities around the world need upgrades throughout the system including more efficient plant operations, optimization of pumping, asset management, power usage optimization, leak detection, detection of contaminants, and consumer access to individual usage. This is no small undertaking!
The U.S. water infrastructure breaks once each minute and about 540,000 times each year. The entire network is comprised of about 1.8 million miles of water distribution lines. Because of the age of the infrastructure, however, it leaks about six billion gallons of fresh water per day, according to the American Water Works Association (AWWA). Leak detection is just one way to make our water systems smarter...
In 2015 the Administration announced a new “Smart Cities” Initiative that will invest over $160 million in federal research and leverage more than 25 new technology collaborations to help local communities tackle key challenges such as reducing traffic congestion, fighting crime, fostering economic growth, managing the effects of a changing climate, and improving the delivery of city services.
More than $35 million in new grants and over $10 million in proposed investments to build a research infrastructure for Smart Cities by the National Science Foundation and National Institute of Standards and Technology. Nearly $70 million in new spending and over $45 million in proposed investments to unlock new solutions in safety, energy, climate preparedness, transportation, health and more, by the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Transportation, Department of Energy, Department of Commerce, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
The shift toward an increasingly clean, sustainable, intelligent, mobile, and distributed energy ecosystem presents immense opportunities and challenges for utilities. In parallel, digital technologies are transforming the utility infrastructure for all types, shapes and sizes of utilities. Many of these issues are being brought together in smart city developments around the world. Every community is different, with different needs and different approaches. But smart communities that are making the most progress are those embracing digital and interoperable systems.
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Why this matters....
On average, 20% of processed water is lost before it reaches the tap! (see figure below)
According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs:
Around 700 million people in 43 countries suffer today from water scarcity.
By 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity.
Two-thirds of the world's population could be living under water stressed conditions.
With the existing climate change scenario, almost half the world's population will be living in areas of high water stress by 2030.