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Water Management

Water has an image problem

Many people believe it's cheap and abundant. But due to our current water management systems, one in five people on the planet do not have adequate access to safe, clean drinking water.

Though the total amount of water on this planet has never changed, the nature of that water is changing. Everything from where rain falls to the chemical makeup of the oceans is in flux. And these changes are forcing us to ask some very difficult questions about how and where we live and do business.

Left to its own devices, the earth has a near perfect, self-regulating water management system. We all remember the lessons from primary school: water evaporates from the ocean and forms clouds. Those clouds drift over the land and produce rain. The rainwater flows into lakes, rivers or aquifers. The water in lakes, rivers and aquifers then either evaporates back to the atmosphere or eventually flows back to the ocean, completing a cycle.

But mankind has thrown a spanner in the works.

Every time we interact with water, we change it, redirect it or otherwise alter its state

Though it's a worldwide entity, water is treated as a regional issue. There is no global market and very little international exchange. "Water is about quantity, quality, space and time," says Ian Cluckie, Professor of Hydrology and Water Management at the University of Bristol, in the IBM Global Innovation Outlook report on water management (US). "Whether you have a big problem or not depends entirely on where you live."

But with innovation comes inspiration. With advances in technology-sophisticated sensor networks, smart meters, deep computing and analytics-we can be smarter about how we manage our planet's water. We can monitor, measure and analyse entire water ecosystems, from rivers and reservoirs to the pumps and pipes in our homes. We can give all the people, organisations, businesses, communities and nations dependent on a continuing supply of freshwater-that is, all of us-a single, reliable, up-to-the-minute and actionable view of water use. But that's just the first drop.

There are multiple water agencies in New Zealand, it varies for different regions. But there is no coordination of these agencies, despite the fact that they are all managing a shared resource. There is no sharing of data to achieve a holistic view of the entire watershed or water ecosystem.

Through a combination of information gathering technology and analytics tools, global water management can be transformed, indeed reborn. IBM's efforts are aimed at preserving and protecting clean water for drinking, bathing, electric power, food, industrial manufacturing and the irrigation of crops.

The data drought

Optimising our water management is no longer an aspirational exercise. It requires expertise in science, modelling and understanding complex systems to improving water quality, preservation and resource management. In other words, it demands smarter water systems for a smarter planet.

If we can predict, we can better protect
IBM and the Nature Conservancy are building advanced Web-based tools for river basin management. Working with researchers from IBM, they are running computer simulations in a geospatial 3D environment to help users visualise the possible effects of different land use and water use policy scenarios on ecosystem services and biodiversity.

1998 was a banner year for mobile commerce: The first purchase by cell phone was made (to a Coca-Cola machine), and a ring tone was the first downloaded content sale.

Water: A Finite Resource

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Hear from Anna Rose Founder & Chairwoman of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, with her views on how to move the environment debate forward and establish a consensus on positive action.

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Meet the experts

Shalome Doran

Shalome Doran,
Smarter Water Leader

IBM Australia and New Zealand

  • About Shalome

    Shalome is a key member of IBM’s Smarter Water program and leads the development of advanced water management solutions to address the challenges currently facing the Australian water industry.

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Municipalities commonly lose as much as 50 percent of their water supply through leaky infrastructure. Municipalities commonly lose as much as 50 percent of their water supply through leaky infrastructure.

Other IBM efforts are similarly aimed at preserving and protecting clean water for drinking, bathing, electric power, industrial manufacturing, food and the irrigation of crops. In New York, for example, the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries (US) is working with IBM to deploy the River and Estuary Observatory Network (REON), with floating sensors along the Hudson River as part of a monitoring and preservation study. The goal is to be able to understand, in real time, how the river responds to everything from storms to droughts to human interaction.


 

If we can predicts, we can better protect. Visualisation and forecasting tools facilitate more sustainable management of the world's great rivers, including Brazil's Paraguay-Paraná river system. South America, Major Basin: Amazon. Area: 7212185 sq km. If we can predicts, we can better protect. Visualisation and forecasting tools facilitate more sustainable management of the world's great rivers, including Brazil's Paraguay-Paraná river system. South America, Major Basin: Amazon. Area: 7212185 sq km.

Every year global agriculture wastes an estimated 60 percent of the 2500 trillion liters it uses. Every year global agriculture wastes an estimated 60 percent of the 2500 trillion liters it uses.

IBM and the Nature Conservancy are building advanced Web-based tools for river basin management. Working with researchers from IBM, they are running computer simulations in a geospatial 3D environment to help users visualise the possible effects of different land use and water use policy scenarios on ecosystem services and biodiversity.