Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent
August, 31st 2009

In recent decades we have seen amazing innovative advancements in agriculture and manufacturing practices that have been developed to support the needs of a booming global population.  These advancements have come about through investment from private industry, improved technology and global trade routes.  And one other vital ingredient – pure fresh water.  Every single supply chain or production line in the world has water as one of its key components, using practices that did not necessarily factor in the finiteness of this resource.  The 2009 Global Innovation Outlook Report on Water provides some interesting insights into the volume of water required to produce various goods, including:

  • 70 litres of water to make one apple
  • 140 litres of water to make one cup of coffee
  • 1,300 litres of water to make one kilogram of wheat
  • 10,855 litres of water to make one pair of jeans

These calculations take into account every drop of water used in the production lifecycle, from irrigation to industrial processes, to discharge.  In Australia, we are looking closely at this virtual use of water as our water resources drop to critical levels.  Unprecedented droughts, particularly over the last 10 years, have motivated our Government, industry and community leaders to address this issue, particularly at the agricultural level.  Currently, many of our farmers, who use 70% of our fresh water, still irrigate on a ‘flood the field’ basis, losing up to 75% of the water to evaporation.  As a result, these traditional irrigation systems take up to four times the water they need to produce each tonne of grain.  Thankfully we all recognise that to make our economy sustainable and to manage our most precious resource, we need to create an integrated, intelligent water system.  A smart network that monitors its own health, remotely senses damage, assesses water availability and predicts demand.  A system that helps manage end-to-end distribution, from reservoirs to pumping stations to smart pipes to holding tanks to intelligent metering at the user site – so we can manage water consumption efficiently.  In the following light-hearted video, we demonstrate how we will evolve to meet our water use needs for domestic, agriculture, community and environmental purposes.  We have an opportunity to transform the way Australia manages water to create an integrated, intelligent system that helps us to use water wisely.

Shalome Doran

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t is ok to pass to E27 and all the economic bulbs, but the costs of producing and recycling it is way lot higher than for a filament bulb. Has anyone made a rigorous calculation for this aspect. Or we just have to adapt to new regulations for pumping other polluting industries?!I think in this booming world population we are breathing much too inefficiently: wasting this most precious resource

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Thanks for the informative video. I think that the most serious problem the world is facing is that the water which is available is not good for our daily lives neccessities. we are in a real need of intelligent systems which can be used for water recycling and destilation

Posted by: Sherifa
September 4, 2009
1:14 pm

Shalome, Not only have you (and I must assume IBM) created a very wise video about the most critical solutions and problems in the largest sector of water users, agricultural irrigation, you also point to the social issues by bringing the bright, inquisitive girl into the story.
As an irrigation specialist operating in Arizona for over 30 years, and at the time using soil moisture monitoring technologies to measure and report hidden soil moisture data to cotton, wheat, and citrus growers in Central Arizona, as well as soil and plant fertility, I found the video 100% on the mark.
The concepts presented transfer VERY WELL onto the farm. Producers seem to hesitate adopting the technolgies because 1)means they have to do better accounting, which means computers and college grads running the systems, 2)means if they DO improve water use efficiency and fertilizer use efficiency, they could somehow be restricted to live within these boundaries in the future, 3)growers do not want to conserve water on the farm, just so that it will be available to developers that want to grow shopping centers with water features, 4)water-on-demand, like pressurized systems in Israel, are not common in many other developed countries; water must be taken and turned onto fields as it is made available by old-fashioned irrigation districts,5) incentives for high-precision irrigation system design, and system development/construction, and proper system commissioning are not supported by universities, cooperative extension services, irrigation districts, state or federal agencies, and 6) the credits to growers who adopt resource conservation measures which produce environmental products and services to society are ignored by society. All that, plus when water and fertilizer use is optimized (for profit, people, and planet) on-farm, there are often numerous, attendant energy savings as well.
SOme irrigation districts and states get it. For others (with their heads in the sand, dreaming for a return to the 1970′s)the result is that nothing changes, and those of us attempting to make livings providing independent, professional consulting in irrigation and fertigation system planning and long-term ground- & plant-truthed system management are marginalized, while our repeated renewals and our investments in our consulting practices grow harder and harder to justify.

Posted by: Tom A. Reynolds, CID, ASIC
September 3, 2009
9:34 am

cosmina. You might enjoy this Earth2Tech article that talked about some of the problems of producing hybrid cars and the impending pressures it will have on rare metals:

You have a point that we should try and get as much value and use out of what we have, so long as continued use isn’t worse than producing something new.

to the issue of water though, I think there are different sorts of problems at play. Weather trends, urbanization and population density put significant pressures on current water distribution systems. It’s less of a question of stretching out the lifespan of current consumer water hogs, and more of a question of how can governments and utilities rethink how water distribution works. Can technology be embedded that allows the overall infrastructure to remain in place while making significant changes in how it’s distributed, metered, allocated and treated? Separately, there are massive questions that societies need to address – namely, should water be treated economically like the scarcity that it is, or should it be treated as a commodity service like it is now. Pros and cons to both.

Anyhow, that’s what I think we need to start thinking about. Sorry for the long reply…

Posted by: Adam Christensen
September 3, 2009
5:06 am

The innitiative is good – provoking discussions. I just hope this (the eco-responsability and environmental worries) not to become another face of the wild consumerism we are living. I am not a phisycian, nor a genius but I feel the climate changes on my skin or the rising of resources’ scarcity, bad air, bad water, bad food and so on. And I see the piles of garbage everywhere I go on “vacation”. And my conclusion is that we are facing a SOCIAL PROBLEM; we are fastly destroying the traditional balances denying our organicity. We use machines for almost every humanly aspect…
It is ok to pass to E27 and all the economic bulbs, but the costs of producing and recycling it is way lot higher than for a filament bulb. Has anyone made a rigorous calculation for this aspect. Or we just have to adapt to new regulations for pumping other polluting industries?!
Is it alright to have a bio,organic and ecological market for everyday goods. BUT IT IS NOT A SOLUTION TO BUY NEW THINGS AND THROWING THE OLD ONES – giving the marketeers the perfect pretext for easying their clients’ consciousness – “get rid of your old frigo and buy a new energy-intelligent one”…..
We are now obsessed with monitoring – put technology to see how the little daisy grow, how the cuddly sheep eats, how the sufocated fish swims and so on. So much money wasted! WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING concretely not behind the monitors. And the solutions are so at hand – just see how much your grandparents consume at their village house: a 20 year old dazzling white blouse that they put on every Sunday, 2-3 pair of long-lasting shoes and the tomatoes in their backyard. Do they understand “shopping?”

Posted by: cosmina dinu
September 2, 2009
9:46 am

Jolanta, I think your point is right on. One of the things we need to do is to document successes and how it’s worked in both developing countries and developed countries. In what I’ve been reading, some of the more advanced solutions are actually coming out of developing countries. So those learnings need to flow both ways.

Konstantin… ahh the sarcasm. I’m fine contending IBM has bad “computers” or whatever, but are you saying there isn’t a global water problem? Because that’s what this post is all about… not really about IBM.

So what are your ideas on how to fix it? Where do you see progress or gaps? How would you go about doing that? This is all about being constructive…

Posted by: Adam Christensen
September 1, 2009
6:25 pm

I think we are missing the bigger problem: Air. I think in this booming world population we are breathing much too inefficiently: wasting this most precious resource. Do you have any idea how much air it takes to make one cup of coffee? I think we should all get together immediately, globally, with the geniuses from IBM leading us in this emergency as soon as possible. IBM must take immediate control of the air we breathe. Think of the children!

P.S. Who do you think you are, you pretentious jerks! Your computers are just barely decent and you want to build a “smarter planet”?! You gotta be joking!!!

Posted by: Konstantin Pogorelov
September 1, 2009
8:07 am

I’m sure that other, better developed countries, have systems of preserving/reusing/obtaining water in place, so maybe we could communicate on a global scale to ask for ideas or systems which worked for others instead of wasting time and redoing the work already done?

Posted by: jolanta
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