IBM Ventures Out into Strategic Water Solutions

IBM unveiled on March 16 its first portfolio of smart water services and technologies, and a scientific breakthrough -- a more energy efficient membrane that quickly and reliably filters out salts and deadly toxins, such as arsenic.

The new membrane uses a unique chemistry to create a "water super-highway" that is far more efficient than other approaches to filtration. The rate at which the water super-highway removes arsenic from contaminated water doubles as the pH increases. 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. Additionally, the membrane is also resistant to chlorine damage. The membrane was developed by scientists at IBM Research, in collaboration with Central Glass of Japan, the King Abdul-aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) in Saudi Arabia, and the University of Texas, Austin.

Using advanced analytics, developed by mathematicians in IBM Research, as well as the company's information management, technology services, and business consulting capabilities, IBM's new Strategic Water Management Solutions include the following offerings to help governments, water utilities, and companies across many industries monitor and manage water more effectively:

  • Natural Water Resources -- Provides sensor data integration, analysis, and visualization to enable the measurement, modeling and management of water levels, usage, and quality in natural water resources.
  • Water Utilities -- Enables water providers to make rapid decisions regarding business processes and operational efficiency to maximize their return on investments as well as foresee and quickly respond to contamination issues and emergencies.
  • Water Infrastructure -- Provides sensing systems for managing water infrastructure, such as levee oversight management and flood control.
  • Water Metering -- Improves management of water supply and demand by integrating data between the dozens of stakeholders involved. Provides all stakeholders with consistent, real-time information to help them work together to make critical decisions about water supply in a geographic region.
  • Green Sigma for Water (TM) -- is a business consulting service that identifies where water is being used, measures and monitors usage, and creates process improvements to reduce water use. IBM pilots have achieved reductions in water usage of 30 percent.

"Regardless of industry or geography, smarter water management is an issue faced by every business and government on the planet," said Sharon Nunes, vice president for Big Green Innovations at IBM. "Without sufficient insight into near- and long-term factors affecting your water supply and usage -- complex issues such as access, quality, cost and re-use -- you increasingly run the risk of failure."

The development of IBM's smart water offerings are a result of IBM's 'Big Green Innovations' initiative. Announced in October 2006, as part of IBM's $100 million investment in 10 new businesses generated by InnovationJam, Big Green Innovations has concentrated its efforts on water management, alternative energy, and carbon management.