HomeSensorsAT&T and IBM use IoT to address water woes

AT&T and IBM use IoT to address water woes

Smart water pipes alert to leaks before small problems become big ones

WASHINGTON – Even among the rank partisanship of Washington, D.C., one thing no one will disagree with is that the nation’s civil infrastructure needs urgent attention.

The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the national infrastructure a “D+” ranking in its annual report card. Municipal water pipes earned a “D” with the ASCE noting there were 240,000 water main breaks each year.

The Center for Neighborhood Technology estimates that 2.1 trillion gallons of drinking water is wasted annually; overhauling the entire system could cost upwards of $1 trillion.

AT&T and IBM are hoping to provide a more cost-effective solution to alleviate the nation’s water woes by harnessing “Internet of Things” technology.

Forbes reports that the two companies are partnering with Muller Water Products, a large manufacture of water pipes and valves, to retrofit existing pipes with acoustic sensors designed to upload data over AT&T’s wireless network to IBM servers, where IBM designed software will identify potential leaks, cracks and breaks in the system.

The hope is that through leveraging IoT technology and the attendant data that’s generated, municipalities and utility companies will be able to focus resources in a more efficient manner and fix small problems before they become big ones.

So far Atlanta, Las Vegas and Los Angeles have all tested the system. Programs such as this are part of a growing trend of capitalizing on wireless technology to create smarter and more efficient cities and societies.

Mobeen Khan, AVP of AT&T’s Industrial Internet of Things unit said, “AT&T does a lot of work with cities around communication systems, IBM provides a lot of the management software in cities today, and Mueller has been in the water business for decades. These three companies have put something together that is now ready for a new market.”

Both AT&T and IBM have invested heavily in the emerging IoT market, which is projected to eventually generate big bucks. AT&T has reported that its IoT department connected 22 million devices in the first quarter of 2015.

IBM has also gone all in on IoT, investing $3 billion to establish an IoT business unit.

At the time Bob Picciano, SVP at IBM Analytics said: “Our knowledge of the world grows with every connected sensor and device, but too often we are not acting on it, even when we know we can ensure a better result. IBM will enable clients and industry partners apply IoT data to build solutions based on an open platform. This is a major focus of investment for IBM because it’s a rich and broad-based opportunity where innovation matters.”

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