Trick question: How many liters of water does it take to make a pair of jeans?
One estimated answer: 10,855.
Think about what it'll also take to wash them over their life-time and it's pretty easy to see why many of the companies talking about the smart grid opportunity are also looking into water. IBM, for one, is making a big-time play to help communities, countries, companies and cities all over the globe manage our finite supply of water. It's easy to see why: a recent survey of 100 public and private sector executives indicated that close to 80 percent believed water management was "extremely important to their organization." Here's IBM's broader Global Innovation outlook on water.
The company is announcing a whole slew of projects and products in conjunction with the big water conference in Istanbul that Harry Fuller mentioned over the weekend in this post. It's all part of IBM's decision to position itself in a field it calls Strategic Water Management Solutions. Among the areas it will address are:
- Providing sensors and measurement applications that can be used to monitor and manage water levels and usage.
- Business process issues for water utilities, such as how to respond if a water supply is contaminated.
- Applications for handling dams, levees and flood control concerns.
- Smart meters that, much like the proposition on the electricity side, would allow individuals and organizations to make more informed decisions on how to allocate or use available supply.
One of the IBM's current projects is the SmartBay research system in Galway Bay in Ireland, where members of the local economy including fishermen are using IBM technology to better understand activity in the marine ecosystem. Its smart grid project in Malta also extends into water, and the company has a pulse on projects with both The Nature Conservancy and with the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries in New York.