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IBM R&D Labs in Israel News

Smarter water management in Haifa

Collaborations with companies in Israel and abroad deliver new optimizations and introduce water quality of service

   Pnina Vortman
Meet Pnina Vortman, senior manager in charge of smarter solutions at IBM Research – Haifa. Under her leadership, researchers from Haifa are contributing to smarter water management projects across the globe, in places like China, the US, Israel, and Asia. Pnina envisions a future where we can design smarter water systems that improve quality of service, distribution, and management.

Israel stands at the world’s forefront in water recycling, with 75% of the wastewater being recycled. Just for comparison, Spain is the next in line, recycling 20% of its wastewater. “Living in an environment where water conservation and management have always been of primary concern is a great motivator for new ideas, partners, and research,” notes Pnina.

Working with water

IBM is working with Israeli companies and IBM partners that specialize in water elements, such as smart meters, valves, quality sensors, water purification, water safety, and water system engineering.

We bring to the table our capabilities in analytics and optimization, to optimize maintenance and power, reduce water leakage through dynamic pressure control, optimize maintenance costs, define models and contribute to the definition of standards, and the development of methods to apply these.  In one project, Haifa researchers are using the methodologies they developed to ensure high availability in data centers and adapting them to water systems.

In addition to a focus on analytics, monitoring, and optimization, researchers are working to define quality of service parameters and standards for water. Although these exist in the industry, there is currently no formal definition that would enable systems to comply with these standards.  For example, teams are now working to define acceptable standards for the various chemical makeup of the different kinds of water. Other standards will determine what is considered acceptable pressure when you open the tap.


Quality of service and life-cycle management

   Asset management systems can manage
   and store information about every
   element in the water network systems
   such as pipes, pumps, valves, pools,
   and meters
“We need levels for water Quality of Service in each country, to ensure acceptable pressure, chemical makeup, availability, and quality – for every type of usage, whether industrial, agriculture, or urban,” explained Pnina. “Ideally, future systems will be able to do self-checks to make sure they’re complying with water quality standards or availability and pressure service levels and then automatically adapt or send an alert when thing are not up to standard.”

“We need to look at the end-to-end of the water life-cycle and provide holistic approach that will be based on a common platform and framework to address water and waste water management,” noted Pnina. “IBM is the only company that can provide the IT framework and bring in solutions from third-parties.” Haifa researchers can help provide advanced research components and work with Israeli partners to introduce the innovation that exists in the Israeli water industry.


4 Key Management Issues 4 Trends Toward Smarter Water Management 4 Haifa Projects in Water Management 4 Things Pnina Would Like to See in the Future
Leakage and demand forecasting Analytics and optimization provide insight and decision-making for data collected from sensors Simulation, prediction, and real-time analytics to understand water usage, reduce water leakage via dynamic pressure control and predict the demand Smarter pipes with sensors that can detect leaks or contamination and then enable proactive maintenance and effect repairs
Water quality Monitoring and analyzing data from sensors that measure quality and then apply analytics to react in time Decision support for proactive water management and maintenance planning More advanced water ‘safety’ – to detect crime or terror actions of intentional contamination
High availability Using sensors to better understand usage patterns and apply dynamic to ensure availability and reliability where needed Methodologies used in data centers are being adapted to ensure high availability in water systems With more sensors in homes, everyone will be aware of how much water they use
Automated water management Enhancing recycling and treatment so we contribute to alternative water sources Minimizing pump electricity usage to maintain the right blend of water quality Different systems for kitchen and restrooms, so we don’t waste high quality drinking water

Making water smarter

A major area of IBM's efforts to create a smarter planet have focused on making water smarter. Learn more about how IBM works on water and is developing more sustainable solutions for the world's scarce natural resources.

Haifa CSR technologies

At the recent IBM Corporate Social Responsibility Seminar in Haifa, Pnina presented an overview of IBM's smart water initiatives. Download her presentation from here, and visit the conference site to learn more about IBM CSR projects in Haifa.