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AT&T and IBM Bring IoT to Bear on Water Shortage

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Drought is becoming a serious problem in the western U.S., and all over the world. Now, big companies are taking action, with the help of the IoT. AT&T, IBM and Mueller Water Products announced on June 1 that the three have developed a new solution using IoT technology to try and alleviate water shortages in urban environments. At the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Tech Expo, the brands announced the results of several recent test trials of the technology that took place in Atlanta, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

In addition to drought, old pipelines and limited funds for new equipment all play a part in increasing water shortages, so the companies determined that monitoring water systems can prevent large-scale leaks that waste water. Cities can now get information on the condition of fire hydrants, underground pipes and drainage systems, which have been difficult to monitor until now.

“A typical water pipe leak wastes almost 400,000 gallons of water per year,” said Mike Troiano, VP, Industrial IoT Solutions, AT&T. “Cities are facing water shortages all over the world and need help identifying issues early to help avoid a catastrophic event. We’re giving communities more visibility into their water supply, and helping them better manage the future operation of their water systems.”

Image via Wikimedia

The new solution uses Echologics sensors and sound technology from Mueller Water Products and marries them to AT&T’s LTE wireless network. The sensor nets detect water pressure, temperature, leaks and then IBM’s Water Management Center aggregates the data and combines it all to generate a comprehensive view of the system’s performance.

“With this new permanent leak monitoring technology, we can now monitor the pipe for small, subsurface leaks, which gives us a better opportunity to fix them before they develop into larger leaks,” said Charles Scott, engineering project manager, Las Vegas Valley Water District. “This reduces our risk, and allows us to focus our maintenance efforts to targeted sections of pipe.”

With this kind of smart municipal monitoring, it’s possible that conservation can make a real dent in shortages threatening the lives of people all over the world. 




Edited by Maurice Nagle
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