As water increasingly becomes one of the world's most precious resources, IBM (NYSE: 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 helps 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. The Big Data solutions available from IBM were an ideal fit to boost the data management capabilities in the company's field-proven automated meter systems.
'Highly specialized analytics from IBM provide an additional layer of insight into our technology, allowing us to provide utilities and water companies worldwide with the most advanced solutions and services to reduce water costs, improve customer service, and provide higher efficiency of water usage,' said Gabi Yankovitz, CEO of Arad Group.
Developed by IBM scientists in Israel, Big Data 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.
'These insights have the potential to revolutionize data management for utilities and help them develop transform their business,' said Oded Cohn, director of IBM Research in Haifa, Israel, where the smart water analytics were developed. 'Analyzing customer data that is collected for billing purposes can serve as a crucial factor in saving valuable resources and improving service in many industries.'
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.
Arad has embedded IBM analytics into their Dailog3G and CityMind Meter Data Management software to give their customers the benefits of higher quality water analysis services.
- Operational benefits – By reducing the number of false alerts, utilities will dramatically cut down the amount of unnecessary technician visits.
- Financial benefits – New reductions in non-revenue water and water loss will help water companies save money and yield proven return on investment.
- Customer care benefits – The advanced features can be extended to provide customers with email or SMS alerts when a leak is detected, and enable consumers to immediately view their consumption via mobile devices. With access to knowledge and useful metrics, consumers are better informed and require fewer calls to customer service.
- Environmental benefits – Faster detection of leaks means better conservation of water and reduced waste.
IBM has established the world's deepest portfolio of Big Data technologies and solutions, spanning services, software, research and hardware. IBM has committed more than $100 million in R&D on new Big Data technologies and garnered more than 500 analytics-related patents.
For more information on IBM Research, visit: http://www.research.ibm.com/
For more information on IBM Smarter Water, visit www.ibm.com/smarterplanet/water
The Arad Group is an international leader in water metering technologies, with centers in Israel, the US (Master Meter), China, and Spain (Contazara). For more information, visit www.arad.co.il
Jenny Hunter – IBM US
Chani Sacharen – IBM Research – Haifa
Rami Ziv – Arad Group
 Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and UN-Water