Posts tagged ‘Aging Infrastructure’
The Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2011 (“Summer Davos”) is taking place this week, and we thought it’s a great venue to announce our first research report. This report, planned to be the first of many, shows the connection between water prices and water loss rates. Water loss is a key metric that impacts the sustainability, conservation and efficiency of water networks.
In some of the world’s cities, water is priced lower than the costs to pump and transport it, let alone sustain its delivery infrastructure: the network of pipes, pumps, reservoirs and valves that brings water to our homes. In some places water is free.
The question raised by TaKaDu’s research was whether the price of water also affects water loss rates. Theoretically, water underpricing can lead to undervaluing of water and underinvesting in the water distribution network.
Water pricing doesn’t impact residential consumption alone. Globally, only about 10% of water is used residentially, while the remaining 90% is used for agriculture and industry, so water mispricing obviously affects the way all sectors use water.
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“Outdated water infrastructure and record high government deficits are both fueling demand for low-cost inspection and repair solutions – namely software and sensor technologies that can provide a snapshot of a utility’s entire infrastructure,” said Brent Giles, a Lux Research Senior Analyst and the report’s lead author. “Without this holistic view, utilities cannot prioritize the most critical repairs – and may end up throwing money down the drain to address the leaks that are visible today rather than the ones that could prove catastrophic tomorrow.”
What’s interesting about the report is that Lux say that although the market is big and growing, the result of an infrastructure deficit and aging pipes, the underlying problem the market is set to solve – water loss – won’t be resolved without technology innovation.
While Lux commends both Smart Metering and Pipe Repair Technologies, it comments that the big move that would make a lasting change in the management of water networks is Smart Infrastructure Monitoring options.
Last month, The Economist issued a special report on smart systems. The report is an excellent exploration of the second world that is emerging beside the real world we know: the digital reflection of the world. The real world is strewn with sensors, which constantly transfer masses of output data that is then reflected in a mirror digital world. The mirror digital world doesn’t exist for the sake of knowledge alone. It hopefully makes the task of managing the real world easier and better.
In recent years, there has been a lot of talk about the growing infrastructure deficit. Across the US, Canada and Europe, experts and policy makers share a growing concern around the many billions required to catch up with this deficit, or in layman’s words: Public infrastructure is aging and decaying. While there may be disagreement about the actual extent of the deficit, there is no arguing that it is there to stay – and that some types of infrastructure age with less grace than others.
An emerging category named ‘Water Infrastructure Monitoring’ carries the promise of optimizing – through the use of advanced software and data collection – the process of pinpointing the assets that need to be serviced, and taking corrective action, thereby prolonging asset life and diverting scarce budgets to the right places
Going through “Charting Our Water Future”, a report by the 2030 water resources group, which, as its name implies, is looking at the future of water supplies in 2030.
One of the views that caught my eye in the report was the gap between how policy makers see the priority of making water investments and evaluating these water investments from an economic viewpoint.
Let’s say a country is facing water shortages. Should it invest in creating more water (desalination, for instance), improving its water infrastructure (investing in groundwater production and pipe networks) or try to get more efficiency gains (e.g. scheduling agricultural irrigation)?
A 90-year old water main in Dallas burst and flooded a basement, forcing the shutdown of data center with no backup. Since the datacenter housed all county data processing, including criminal justice records, the system almost ground to a halt.