Water is becoming a problem. The WHO reported in 2020 that 2 billion people don’t have access to clean drinking water worldwide, and about a third of all people don’t have access to handwashing at home.
Most world leaders are taking what action they can to address and ameliorate these shortages and initiate water reuse and recycling programs, but technology is enabling nearly all of them. In France, President Emmanuel Macron recently launched a 50-point plan to improve water management across his country. France has been enduring heatwaves and droughts caused by climate change and this has reduced groundwater levels to record lows.
The plan involved reclaiming gray water from all over the country to use in agriculture irrigation, where most of the nation’s water is used. That’s going to involve all sorts of industrial reclamation and filtration systems being put in, and monitored with smart sensors and data collection and analytics.
In the US, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), which oversees water resources for more than 9 million Floridians, has been addressing the water crisis by using Google Tools and cloud-based applications for Quality Management, to automate data collection and perform analysis.
The scientists in the water management department were spending a huge number of hours just reviewing and manipulating data, and that was really a waste of their education and time, when automation could be doing it. Now, cloud-based tools use sensors to collect data on fresh water quality at lakes and reservoirs across the state. What’s more, in partnership with Google Public Sector, SFWMD reportedly is leveraging geospatial data and analytics tools to be more efficient and effective in its monitoring and remediation efforts.
One of the district’s main water quality struggles was in managing algae blooms in Lake Okeechobee, the largest lake in the state, and other bodies of water. The monitoring and analysis of these blooms was being done manually, which was time consuming and inefficient. Now, the district is implementing Google’s Climate Insights for natural resources, which was built by Google and partner Climate Engine to collect data from satellite imagery and combine it with remote sensor data. The raw data is put into BigQuery, the same platform Google Search uses, and from there, AI and analytics generate decision-driving insights.
Between water efficiency tech and monitoring for impurities like algae blooms through AI, the water crisis is not an insurmountable challenge, but it’s going to take global institutional drive like in France and Florida, partnered with industrial innovators, to make the changes that will ease the world through this global water crisis.