American Pie… the year analog water solutions died
Don McLean wrote American Pie
Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die
Walking along at a pace this morning again, with American Pie on Spotify, I notice how dry the grass is. Another day without rain has its benefits of course – for getting out and about. But I’m thinking about the changes that are needed in relation to water and climate change impacts. There are opportunities in the 4th Industrial Revolution – a so called digital and big-data revolution.
The failure of public policy, underinvestment in old infrastructure and the regular discovery of chemical contaminants, (like THMs) and metals (like lead) in drinking water are frequently in the news. This must be something that innovation can help fix and it brings me back to an article I read at the end of last year – 2019, the year analog water solutions died – written by William Sarni, who tells us that digitalization became commonplace in the world of water, a sector that we have been told is slow to adopt innovative technologies. Digital technology, says Sarni has transformed both the water industry and society’s relationship with water. Sarni notes that sustainability and resiliency are essential for economic development, business growth, social well-being and ecosystem health. Digital technologies are at the forefront of solving water quantity and quality challenges. Solutions such as artificial intelligence are helping to improve our understanding of how water infrastructure is managed and how to communicate with consumers on water quantity and quality. The adoption of digital water technologies is accelerating in response to increasing water scarcity and poor quality issues. This of course has been reinforced with COVID-19. People are working remotely, services are being management from a distance using digital technologies. Central to water resource management are decisions about how to allocate resources across multiple users with increasing demand. To address this challenge requires an understanding of the quality of the water, how much water can be used in a sustainable way, and a picture of current and projected water demand from all sectors. Access to data and the quality of that data prevents the provision of informed decisions sometimes. This is where artificial intelligence (AI) and the digital world can certainly help transform how decisions are reached about balancing demand with sustainable supply in a timely fashion.