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IoT Technology Helping AT&T, IBM Revolutionize City Water Management

AT&T, IBM and Mueller Water Products have teamed up to use Internet of Things (IoT) technology to address water sustainability in cities.

Their partnership combines Echologics sensors and sound technology from Mueller Water Products with AT&T’s LTE wireless network to detect water pressure, temperature and leaks in urban water systems. The IBM Water Management Center helps aggregate the water data, providing a complete view of past, present and future performance.

Last week, the companies shared results from recent trials of the technology in Atlanta, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Tech Expo.

The leak-monitoring technology provides an important preventive measure against flow disruptions said Charles Scott, engineering project manager for the Las Vegas Valley Water District.

"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," he said. "This reduces our risk, and allows us to focus our maintenance efforts to targeted sections of pipe."

The enhanced water management solution put forth by these companies was part of NIST’s Global City Teams Challenge, an initiative to advance the deployment of IoT technologies within smart city environments. It enables cities to track information on the condition of their fire hydrants, underground pipes, and drainage systems.

“A typical water pipe leak wastes almost 400,000 gallons of water per year,” said Mike Troiano, VP of AT&T Industrial IoT Solutions. An average of 25 percent of water produced never reaches end users because of leaks and water main bursts, according to Michael Sullivan, IBM Smarter Water Management Executive.

As a result, municipalities spend an incredible amount of money moving and treating water. As drought, old pipelines and limited funds for new equipment threaten sustainable water supplies, solutions to water management in cities are badly needed.

“Water shortages are growing at an alarming rate and this technology helps conserve such an essential resource for communities across the globe,” said Sokwoo Rhee, associate director of Cyber-Physical Systems Program, NIST.

Troiano agrees. “Cities are facing water shortages all over the world and need help identifying issues early to help avoid a catastrophic event,” he said. “We’re giving communities more visibility into their water supply, and helping them better manage the future operation of their water systems.”

The effort also furthers AT&T’s broader effort to advance sustainable lifestyles with IoT technology with solutions including smart mater management and connected vehicles.

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