The situation with water now
Water has become one of the major problems across countries and societies. Due to rapid industrialization and population explosion, worldwide demand for water has been steadily increasing. Research by the United Nations has shown that the demand is predicted to overcome supply by a margin of 50% within the next 5 years specifically in places like Sudan, Venezuela, Ethiopia, Tunisia & Cuba.
Scientists and governments all over the world are looking for more robust ways to effectively manage water. Realistically, all aspects of water management such as collection, storage and distribution need a technological makeover. Artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) will, eventually, reshape the way we manage water.
What is AI and the Internet of Things?
Oxford Dictionary defines it as ‘the interconnection via the Internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data.’ In simple terms, it creates the ability for ANY object or thing to become connected to the Internet. This could be a chair, a pump or a light switch. The ability to connect these objects to the internet come in the form of sensors which allow you to track the data and usage at the touch of a button.
AI (Artificial Intelligence) is defined as ‘the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence’. Essentially, it enables machines to perform tasks normally reserved for humans, allowing us to perform tasks quicker and more efficiently. Artificial Intelligence systems will interpret the data gathered from objects within the IoT and utilise it to perform tasks, all without human intervention. So how can both AI and IoT benefit us?
Smart monitoring of waterways
AI makes it possible to visualize the real-time data of waterways for future projection and risk management. AI systems could be even programmed to send out a warning to the smart devices when the water level goes above a specific level of a certain chemical or certain biological element. The implementation of AI could, in theory, incorporate machine learning algorithms to make decisions on whether you should shut off a certain water station to prevent water contamination, increase in water level or distribution of water to other water stations.
Better infrastructure development
By implementing AI, water management authorities can create strategic and dynamic operations. Cities can better plan and execute projects, run water distribution networks more efficiently and ensure minimum running costs, all while meeting increasing consumer demands. AI-powered resource planning can analyse growth projections and future trends in the availability of freshwater while assessing current infrastructure to increase efficiency and reduce expense.
Reliable water re-use system
AI is poised to radically change the way water management systems in the world operate and manage water. Its ability to analyse and handle large amounts of data allows Artificial intelligence to be a viable technology for water asset management. It has the potential to bring significant improvement in terms of cutting wastage of water, increasing the efficiency of treatment plants and keeping overall water infrastructure healthy. Moreover, AI is highly scalable and economically feasible. All you have to do is change what you’re adding up.
Intelligent water treatment
The decision-making abilities of AI can be used to automate and optimize water treatment plants. Using water monitoring tools and a data registry of the water source, AI can forecast water shortage at a particular point in time or predict a high demand in the water supply. The system also helps to visualize real-time water loss and misuse of resources such as leaks or damaged pumps.
Proven implementations of AI & IoT in Water Management
Some countries have already proven that, with AI & IoT technology, growth is possible through better economic planning & water management.
For instance in Australia, the water consumption declined by around 50% between 2002 – 2009 while the total economy grew by more than 40%. Many Australian water utility plants are using artificial intelligence (AI) to cut down electricity costs in their water treatment plants. Here, the custom-made AI-driven solution coordinates the pump movements with the level of water available for treatment purpose without any human intervention. Forecasts had shown that drinking water availability would increase by up to 25 million people over the next 2 years through the installation of over 1,20,000 more water taps.
While the concepts of AI and IoT are quite relatively new, the possible future benefits of utilising AI and IoT in water management will change how we consume water. It’ll allow us to plan better, understand our water better and know when to react when a possible health crisis is approaching.