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‘Smart water’ analytics helps reduce water loss, cut costs

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As water increasingly becomes one of the world’s most precious resources, IBM scientists are working with Arad Group, a world leader in reliable water meter systems, to help water companies and utilities around the globe provide more effective and efficient management of drinking water through the use of big data and advanced analytics technology.

Water use has increased at more than twice the rate of population growth in the last century. This means cities, water companies and utilities are facing new challenges in providing a high quality supply of drinking water while keeping costs and energy use to a minimum. Many areas have already implemented automated meter infrastructures (AMI) to measure water consumption, providing highly accurate readings. However, employing advanced analytics on the collected data can provide an additional layer of insight, helping both customers and water utilities gain control of the water network and manage valuable water resources more effectively.

Big data and analytics technology help clients harness the explosion of data coming from a growing number of resources – including data collected from utility meter readings and sensors. Arad Group is working with IBM to integrate the latest analytics algorithms into Arad’s Dailog3G and City-Mind software.

This means utilities and water companies can benefit from early indications of abnormal consumption, reliable fault detection to determine when there is a leak or water waste, and optimized customer interactions. The IBM algorithms are based on machine learning, data mining and statistical analysis techniques. For example, these advanced features allow Arad’s City-Mind software to learn whether the usage is a pattern that occurred before, if it is appropriate for the current seasonal demand, and whether it coincides with what neighboring families are consuming.

Established more than 70 years ago, Arad Group processes water consumption data for hundreds of millions of records each day, based on tens of millions of meters in over 50 countries across the globe. That is an estimated 5 billion gallons of water measured each day – enough to fill more than 50,000 swimming pools.

Developed by IBM scientists in Israel, the smart water analytics identify problems and patterns and differentiate between issues such as leaks and excessive use of water that could result in the waste of millions of gallons of water. It also provides water utilities with insight and helps identify when low or no water use signals a problem.

Reducing the number of false alerts helps technicians know when meters need replacement or repair. For example, when a utility company observes water consumption that is zero or almost zero over a long period of time, a technician is often sent to examine the situation. While this could indicate a broken or faulty meter, it could also be the result of something as common as a family vacation – in which case sending a technician is a waste of time and money.

The IBM analytics tool increases the confidence of differentiating between meters that are truly faulty and false alarms. Field tests have already shown a potential reduction of 50 percent in the number of technician visits, saving valuable time and human resources to address conservation and water management.

In the future, IBM expects predictive algorithms to help utilities better plan for demand and as a result better manage resources, such as tank levels, pressure, and pump scheduling.

Headlines

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