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Emerging technologies can help curb water waste and better monitor water systems. The speed and scale of technological advancements propelling the Fourth Industrial Revolution are transforming the global economy at a time when concerns about water have never been greater. This industrial revolution offers an extraordinary opportunity to confront water risk and realize untapped economic opportunities in both developing and developed countries alike. Developments such as the Internet of Things, the efficient use of big data, artificial intelligence, sensors, advancements in material sciences, and increased computing power are changing the way the world manages its global environmental commons. For example, improvements in aeroponics, a technique for growing plants that does not require soil, has made it possible to reduce water consumption by 95% compared with more conventional, soil-based agriculture - while also preventing environmental runoff, which can carry pollutants and contaminate drinking water. In addition, advancements in laboratory-grown meat have the potential to eliminate the need for the more than 15,000 litres of water that it takes to produce a single kilogram of beef, according to a report published by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Emerging technologies also have the potential to help urban centres become more resilient when it comes to their water systems. Singapore, for example, announced in 2018 that in order to help its water service cope with increasing demand and costs, the city-state would start using technologies like artificial intelligence-powered imaging to detect micro-invertebrates in water samples - and trigger related alerts when that type of contamination is detected. Other examples of technology and data-driven infrastructure that can make water more sustainable include efforts in the United Kingdom to use advanced sensors and internet-connected Internet of Things devices to help identify leaks in water systems - which account for nearly a fifth of water loss - and make these leaks easier to repair. If implemented on a broader scale in the future, such advancements could dramatically reduce global water demand, both for agriculture and for domestic use, while also cutting related greenhouse-gas emissions. Developments in data processing and collection driven by artificial intelligence could also better enable people, businesses, and governments to more firmly grasp their true water needs - and eliminate unnecessary use.

Water Data and Technology

KEY TRENDS

Clean Water and Sanitation