Merging Smart Water with Smart Cities

water-imgSWAN – The Smart Water Networks Forum, is a worldwide industry forum promoting the use of data technologies in water networks, making them smarter, more efficient and more sustainable. Their 5th Annual Conference, which took place in London on April 28-29, 2015 explored the theme “SMART WATER: The time is now!” In an earlier blog we focused on the Migrating from AMR to AMI case study presented by Tal Zur of Arad Technologies at the conference. In this blog we would like to bring some highlights from the conference’s keynote address – Merging Smart Cities with Smart Water – which was given by Anil Menon, Cisco Deputy Chief Globalization Officer and President Smart+Connected Communities.

He began by placing the issue of smart water within the context of trends that are reshaping the global landscape:

  • Social & Demographic: aging, population shrinking in some regions and hyper-growth in others
  • Economic: urbanization, shifting centers of economic power
  • Technology: computing, storage & bandwidth capacity are increasing while costs are declining; mobile, cloud and video are dominant (by 2017 video will be 73% of IP traffic)

Mr. Menon shared Cisco’s belief that increasingly everything will be connectediot-value to everything. It is expected that by 2020 50-75 billion smart objects will be deployed – at a value of $14.4 trillion to the private sector, as shown in the infographic above.

Mr. Menon noted that implementing sensor- and data-based smart water networks to reduce water losses has tremendous economic value, in light of the current state of affairs:

  • Today $14B in yearly revenues are lost around the world (including $8.76B in the US alone) due to unauthorized usage, faulty meters and leaks
  • The deteriorating water infrastructure will cause US businesses to lose $734B in sales between now and 2020.
  • 70% of fresh water is allocated to agriculture, of which 60% is wasted due to leaks and inefficient use.

Smarter water management that provides more universal access to clean water would also have a huge impact on quality of life around the globe. For example:

  • Studies have shown that when water is within 15 minutes from home, school attendance by girls increases by 12%.
  • 443 million school days are lost each year due to water-related diseases.
  • Half of the world’s hospital beds are filled with people suffering from a water-related disease.

Smarter water management, powered by ever-increasing capacity in fog and cloud computing (areas in which Cisco is a leader), will harness big data and incorporate cutting-edge analytics to bring the following benefits:

  • Smart water grid sensors/meters will facilitate remote real-time readings, leak detection and alerts, timely response and repair.
  • Big data analytics will identify unauthorized usage and other performance-constraining factors.
  • Shared resources, collaboration and knowledge sharing will enhance efficiency.
  • Video surveillance will allow real-time management of physical and knowledge assets, document critical processes for ongoing instruction of personnel.
  • High ROI: Every $1 invested in water and sanitation yields $4.3 in reduced healthcare costs.

He concluded his address by summarizing his view of the key success elements for making our world better through smart hospitals, smart cities, smart factories, smart highways, and smart water:

  • Visionary leadership
  • Global open standards
  • Smart regulation
  • Public-private partnerships
  • New computing ecosystem

With so much at stake, Arad is confident that water networks will indeed continue to get smarter and we look forward to continuing opportunities for industry leaders to get together and inspire each other by sharing their vision for the future.

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