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IBM Upping the Ante in Water Management

ibm-logoComputing giant IBM is looking into business possibilities for selling equipment and technology to manage fresh water supplies.

IBM announced its plans March 16 at the World Water Forum in Istanbul, Turkey. Among other things, the company will help conserve water by using its high-end computers to analyze data gathered by sensors in the water. The company is preparing water-management offerings such as consulting services and computing, including water metering for utilities.

According to a press release, here are some of IBM’s new business services:

  • Natural Water Resources – Provides sensor data integration, analysis and visualization to enable the measurement, modeling and management of water levels, usage and quality in natural water resources.
  • Water Utilities – Enables water providers to make rapid decisions regarding business processes and operational efficiency to maximize their return on investments as well as foresee and quickly respond to contamination issues and emergencies.
  • Water Infrastructure – Provides sensing systems for managing water infrastructure, such as levee oversight management and flood control.
  • Water Metering – Improves management of water supply and demand by integrating data between the dozens of stakeholders involved. Provides all stakeholders with consistent, real-time information to help them work together to make critical decisions about water supply in a geographic region.
  • Green Sigma for Water – A business consulting service that identifies where water is being used, measures and monitors usage, and creates process improvements to reduce water use. IBM pilots have achieved reductions in water usage of 30 percent, according to the release.

IBM’s Institute for Business Value conducted a survey of more than 100 public and private sector executives. About 77 percent of respondents said they consider water management “extremely important” to their organizations, and 71 percent expect, over the next five years, for water to create more business cost and complexity.

Additionally at the water forum, IBM unveiled a new membrane that filters from water salts and harmful toxins such as arsenic. IBM’s partners in the project, which claims to consume less energy than other forms of water purification, were Tokyo-based Central Glass and the King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology.

At the experimental SmartBay project, in Galway, Ireland, IBM is contributing its expertise to help gather and decipher marine and coastal data for businesses, researchers, local authorities and beachgoers. Aquaculture, tourism, climate research, fishing and the environment all stand to benefit.

“SmartBay is really moving us into the age where people can look at very complicated data sets in the way they’d like,” Robert McCarthy, IBM innovative environmental solutions manager, working out of its Dublin Innovation Centre, told The Irish Times.

The project draws data from sensors attached to anchored buoys on the bay, to weather gauges, in addition to text messages from fisherman (how many fish did you catch today?) to even boaters, who might report potentially dangerous floating objects.

Here’s a video about IBM’s involvement in Smartbay:

The new services are the latest in a round of CSR and environmental services from IBM. EL has covered IBM’s Environmental Validation Service, its Green Sigma reporting to help manage energy and water and its CSR Reporting services.

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One thought on “IBM Upping the Ante in Water Management

  1. Interesting that IBM is playing a big part in this. A branding blog pointed out that it’s actually not such an odd fit as it seems at first glance–more of a “brand extension” than a brand departure.

    “Basically, in trying to develop a more efficient computer chip, the company recognized that the same thinking that led to a more efficient computer chip could be used to regulate water usage more efficiently on a large scale. This is a brand in touch with itself and in touch with its history.”

    Here’s a link to the full post.

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