Managing urban water demand using smart meters

Smart water meters — meters that can automatically collect detailed usage data — are growing in popularity as a way to manage aging infrastructure and encourage conservation. Smart meters are a new source of information about water systems, providing consumption data in greater spatial and temporal detail than ever before.

IBM Research is developing new tools in order for consumers and utilities to take advantage of smart meter technology through applications including usage evaluation, demand forecasting, pump scheduling, pressure management, equipment replacement and many others. Collectively, these applications aim at improving understanding of demand and reducing water and energy costs.



Bradley Eck


Use smart metering technologies to develop methods and tools to manage urban water demand


Application example: EU project iWidget

iWidget logo

iWIDGET is an FP7 funded project (Ref. Number 318272) project to advance knowledge and understanding about smart metering technologies.

The project aims to develop new methodologies and tools to manage urban water demand by reducing wastage, improving utility understanding of end-user demand and reducing customer water and energy costs. The project started in November 2012 and will run for three years.
iWIDGET develops an ICT system for households and utilities. Households will get information on their water use in real time and get support to change inefficient habits. For example, a household could receive customized suggestions for taking advantage of new pricing schemes or receive an alarm if local leakage is suspected.  

Water utilities will get a better understanding of how their customer's behavioural patterns affect system operation. For example, optimal operating plans can be built on high-resolution demand forecasts. For both sides, these advances are made possible by water usage data at higher resolutions than has been available previously.    

IBM is leading the research and development of iWIDGET systems with particular focus on  designing the high-level system architecture, managing real-time sensor data, and developing analytics to improve operations and planning at the utility level. 

IBM is particularly developing tools to support decisions around pump scheduling, valve placement, and equipment maintenance in ways that leverage high resolution consumption data. These tools, and others developed by project partners, utilize the iWIDGET application programming interface, which is being designed and developed by IBM as part of the project.

For more information on the project please visit the iWIDGET project website, or join our group on LinkedIn, or follow @iWIDGET_FP7 on twitter.

Water pump schedule

Application example

Customized pump schedule based on latest smart meter data avoids over-pumping, reduces energy cost and carbon footprint.


  1. Web Services for Water Systems: The iWIDGET REST API
    M.G. Barry, M.E. Purcell, B.J. Eck, J. Hayes, E. Arandia
    Procedia Engineering 89, 2014, pp. 1120–1127
  2. Water Demand Pattern Classification from Smart Meter Data
    S.A. McKenna, F. Fusco, B.J. Eck
    Procedia Engineering 70, 2014, pp. 1121–1130

  3. Using Smart Water Meters in (Near) Real Time on the iWIDGET System
    M.E. Purcell, M.G. Barry, B.J. Eck
    11th International Conference on Hydroinformatics HIC 2014, New York City, USA