Internet of water

Helping international projects in better water management

The ever-increasing world population, shrinkage of the Earth’s natural resources, and climatic changes due to global warming have enormously contributed to the shortage of water. Sufficient water distribution and availability, that was previously an issue for a few regions, has now become a global problem. According to 2017 stats by The Pacific Institute, almost 1.7 billion people live in areas where the water demand surpasses the supply. This number is expected to further grow to 2.3 billion by the year 2050.

Apparently, water shortage appears as a solitary problem. However, the existence of the entire life on earth is dependent on this single resource. Therefore, paying attention to this issue is inevitable. Fortunately, many international projects have been started to address this global problem by preventing the loss of this worthy resource during natural calamities like floods, or by inevitable leaks. These projects are run by the efforts of the scientists and engineers who are leveraging the power of information technology. Such ventures have given rise to the terminologies ‘internet of water’ or the ‘digitization of water’. Certainly, when IT is assisting almost every other niche of human lives, no wonder it can also help address water conservation and security.

Digitisation of water

With the use of smart technology for water management, it is possible to look over the entire system for distribution of water and to take necessary measures to prevent unavailability of water by real-time monitoring. According to Seth Cutler, Frost & Sullivan’s senior industry analyst,

“Smart water is essentially the application of database technologies within the water networks to produce actionable intelligence. And it’s done in a way that’s much more quick and efficient, and thorough than previous solutions.”

Considering the need of time, people have promptly adopted this technology to begin with necessary measures. A classic example of digitization of water is smart metering. These meters help in real-time monitoring of usage, leaks, and backflow of water, by connecting to the cellular networks. Other major applications of smart water technology include flood predictions, pipe breakage, and similar issues affecting water levels.

Is the Internet of water a sustainable idea?

While the ‘internet of water’ may not seem an essential concept for the developed (rather privileged) countries, it certainly plays an important role for the underprivileged and struggling regions like Africa. For instance, one can see many local startups and tech companies managing water projects leveraging IT in various parts of Africa. In Niger, the tech company ‘CityTaps’ manages the provision of smart meters to the national utility firm “SEEN”, thereby playing role in adequate supply of running and drinking water to the homes in sustainable conditions. Similarly, in South Africa, an IBM powered tech setup, EZ Farms, is helping the small-scale farmers in agricultural cores by providing remote water management system.

Apart from adequate water supply and management, digitization of water also facilitates the public in maintaining equipment and systems. For instance, a UNICEF water pump project in southeast Kenya is aimed at determining the condition of the pump and water levels beneath the pump by collecting data from the accelerometers installed at those pumps. The real-time monitoring of this data can help in efficient repair and maintenance of the pumps with reduced downtime.

The functioning of such tech companies also hints towards the vast areas of application of technology apart from mere water management and distribution. More investments in this sector will also generate business opportunities and employment for the locals. For regions like Africa, such opportunities play an indirect role in alleviating poverty and promoting economic growth.

While smart water management technology has entered Africa, it still awaits its utilisation to its full potential. Perhaps, the launch of more local firms that can provide real-time information to the dwellers regarding water levels, abundance and scarcity can help prevent the lack of provision of this worthy resource to every citizen. The companies can use VPNs to make the technology available to all citizens, while also securing their IT infrastructure from cyber attacks. Presently, the availability of different VPN software for companies even in Africa clearly shows that the secure use of IoT in these areas isn’t so difficult in the present times.

Wrapping it all

The success of the internet of water in Africa is evidence of the efficient role of information technology in resource management at practical setups. What we need to do now is to promote this idea, persuade the tech firms to invest in such projects, and ensure adequate accessibility of the internet to the public. When such smart setups can alleviate water problems in a region like Africa, they can certainly prove to be successful in other locations of the world as well. All it needs is dedicated efforts from the tech experts who are genuinely focused at conserving this worthy resource, resolving water management problems, and striving for its sufficient supply to every living being on the planet Earth.