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IBM Unveils Smart Technologies, Services to Help Combat Mounting Global Water Issues

Also Announces Scientific Breakthrough in Water Purification

ISTANBUL, TURKEY, WORLD WATER FORUM - 16 Mar 2009: IBM today unveiled 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.

Using advanced analytics, developed by mathematicians in IBM’s labs, 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 monitor and manage water more effectively:

 IBM also announced:

  • Achievements of the SmartBay sensor system, which monitors wave conditions, marine life and pollution levels in and around Galway Bay, Ireland. The system, developed by IBM and the Marine Institute of Ireland, provides real-time information to stakeholders in the Irish maritime economy, runs on a cloud computing platform, and is able to predict water conditions critical to those stakeholders.

"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 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.

A recent study,  conducted by IBM’s Institute for Business Value, indicates water issues are increasing for businesses and governments.  According to the study, which surveyed more than 100 public and private sector executives, 77% consider water management “extremely important” to their organizations, and 71% expect water to create more cost and complexity over the next 5 years. Yet, 63% said they lack systems needed to deal with the water issues they currently face. The majority of those surveyed believe better integration and business intelligence is needed, in addition to stronger internal and external collaboration.   

Additionally, a report on IBM’s recent Global Innovation Outlook (GIO) on water (link to: www.ibm.com/ibm/gio/water.html), which also was released today, reveals that society and business are facing increasingly complex challenges when it comes to understanding and managing water resources on this planet. A lack of viable and actionable data was identified as a key inhibitor to effective water management. IBM’s GIO on water was a series of brainstorming sessions with hundreds of the world’s leading water management experts.  

“Any water management strategy of any company should be based on detailed knowledge of both its own water use, as well the local water situation,” said Neil C. Hawkins, Vice President Sustainability, The Dow Chemical Company. “The strategy should be driven by both a need to maximize water efficiency, reduce the energy used to manage water and minimize costs within the company, as well as a desire to reach local sustainable water management targets.”  

IBM is working on many water management projects around the world:

  • IBM is collaborating with The Nature Conservancy (TNC)  to build practical web-based tools for river basin management.
  • IBM is working with the country of Malta to establish an end-to-end electricity and water smart utility system.
  • IBM has established a Global Center of Excellence for Water Management in Amsterdam to help governments develop enhanced prediction and protection systems for low-lying coastal areas and river deltas.
  • IBM and the Industrial Development Agency of Ireland (IDA Ireland) have established a Centre of Excellence for Water Management, which focuses on innovative research and services for monitoring, managing and forecasting environmental challenges such as the movement of pollutants in fresh water, marine and oceanic environments. 
  • IBM is collaborating with the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries in New York  to build a technology-based monitoring and forecasting network for the Hudson River.

 "Together with IBM, The Nature Conservancy is developing computer tools that will enable companies to gain a better understanding of the environmental and social consequences of their water use,” said Brian Richterb, Director of The Nature Conservancy's Global Freshwater Team. “By fostering sustainable water management practices, companies and municipalities will be able to make better decisions to the benefit of both local communities and nature."  

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.  

More about IBM’s vision to bring a new level of intelligence to how the world works—how every person, business, organization, government, natural system, and man-made system interacts, can be found at: http://www.ibm.com/press/us/en/presskit/26094.wss  

About IBM
For images, videos, and more information related to IBM and water, visit http://www.ibm.com/press/us/en/presskit/26906.wss.

 

Contact(s) information

Jenny Galitz McTighe
IBM Media Relations
914-945-1016
galitz@us.ibm.com

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