Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

AT&T and IBM use IoT technology to help cities save water

Steve Rogerson
June 9, 2015
AT&T, IBM and Mueller Water Products have developed a way to help cities save water using IoT technology that can be installed quickly to help cities manage and prevent leaks.
The companies are sharing results from recent trials at the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) Tech Expo. The trials took place in Atlanta, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
Communities everywhere are struggling to save water. Drought, old pipeline and limited funds for new equipment all play a part. Monitoring the water system can prevent large-scale leaks. Cities can get information on the condition of their fire hydrants, underground pipes and drainage systems, which have been difficult to monitor in the past.
“A typical water pipe leak wastes almost 400,000 gallons (1.8 million litres) of water per year,” said Mike Troiano, vice president of AT&T industrial IoT products. “Cities are facing water shortages all over the world and need help identifying issues early to help avoid a catastrophic event. We’re giving communities more visibility into their water supply, and helping them better manage the future operation of their water systems.”
The method uses Echologics sensors and sound technology from New Hampshire-based Mueller Water Products with AT&T’s LTE wireless network to detect water pressure, temperature and leaks. The IBM Water Management Center brings all sources of water data together. It gives a complete view of past, present and future performance.
“With this new permanent leak monitoring technology, we can now monitor the pipe for small, subsurface leaks, which gives us a better opportunity to fix them before they develop into larger leaks,” said Charles Scott, engineering project manager for Las Vegas Valley Water District (LVVWD). “This reduces our risk, and allows us to focus our maintenance efforts to targeted sections of pipe.”
The LVVWD is a not-for-profit agency that began providing water to the Las Vegas Valley in 1954. It helped build the city's water delivery system and now provides water to more than one million people as well as 40 million visitors to Las Vegas per year. The district has built more than 6400km of pipeline and a reservoir system that can store up to four billion litres of water. LVVWD uses this new system to manage the water supply pipeline and limit potential water loss.
AT&T, IBM and Mueller Water Products have created the enhanced water management solution as part of NIST’s Global City Teams Challenge.
“The success of the smart water project wouldn’t be possible without the remarkable vision and execution of three industry leaders,” said Sokwoo Rhee, associate director of the cyber-physical systems programme at NIST. “Water shortages are growing at an alarming rate and this technology helps conserve such an essential resource for communities across the globe.”
AT&T develops IoT technology for industries such as supply chain, insurance, industrial asset tracking and smart cities. This includes smart meter management, connected vehicles, smart city streets and traffic lights.