IBM scientists have been working on a number of technologies to help deal with complex challenges in understanding and managing water resources.
Working with scientists and research organisations from around the world, IBM researchers have developed a range of smart water services and technologies as part of its new Strategic Water Information Management (Swim) platform to help governments, water utilities and companies monitor and manage water more effectively.
One of these is an energy efficient membrane that quickly and reliably filters out salts and toxins such as arsenic to help with water purification and desalination.
Developed in collaboration with Central Glass in Japan, the King Abdul-Aziz City for Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia and the University of Texas, the membrane uses a unique chemistry to create a "water super-highway". When contaminated water is forced through the membrane, salts and a number of toxins are filtered out and only pure drinking water flows through to the other side.
"As clean water becomes more scarce, and disease from impure water impacts more of the world's population, the race to find efficient methods to purify this important resource is at a critical juncture," said Bob Allen, manager of the water purification project at the IBM Almaden Research Center.
"The kind of research we're doing, and the promising results we're seeing, stand to create a whole new paradigm for how we manage natural resources such as water."
IBM also released its Global Innovation Outlook on Water report, which concluded that a lack of viable data is a key inhibitor to effective water management. Data on water is not necessarily expensive to collect, and much of it already exists in bits and pieces, but it just needs to be collected, co-ordinated and shared.
"You cannot manage what you cannot measure. We need all kinds of data collection, including real-time, because it is a lack of credible, available and viable data that is holding us back," said Doug Miell, water resource management expert at Miell Consulting.
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