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Feb 02, 2010

Water, Smarter, Everywhere

By Morgon Mae Schultz

I've been an environmentalist ever since I was part of Woodsy the owl's target audience, but I never worried much about water. It's easy to take water for granted in my home state, where there's usually a lake within walking distance. But I the real reason I've always disregarded water worrywarts was that I had something very dangerous: A little information. My grade-school understanding of the water cycle told me that we humans have been recycling the same water for thousands of years. Whenever we use it up, nature gives it back. So why worry?

Luckily, IBM knows that a little information won't save us—it's going to take a lot. According to the third installment in IBM's "Mad Science" videos, "Making Water Smarter," the water problem is urgent. Population growth is out of control, and water use has increased twice as fast as population over the last century. Already, one in five of us lacks clean water.

To address this, IBM suggests that Earth's water become part of the Internet of things. IBM has already placed sensor networks into tiny tributaries, large lakes, pipes and home taps to measure water quality along the Hudson River. Temperature, pH, current and other factors help scientists decide how to best manage water district-by-district. Adopted more widely, systems like this could help quench the thirst of those already pinched by the water crisis.

While the "Mad Science" videos are fun and irreverent, seriously curious folks may want to check out IBM's Smarter Water Management page for deeper dirt on smart water.


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