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ARMONK, NY - 16 Mar 2009: IBM (NYSE:IBM) today revealed the findings from its Global Innovation Outlook (GIO) on Water -- a series of brainstorming sessions around the world, that brought together hundreds of the world’s leading water management experts—scientists, academics, businesses and governments—to share knowledge and discuss strategies for improving the efficiency of the world’s water systems. The sessions revealed that society and business are facing some 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.
xSimilarly, a new IBM study underscored a growing gap within businesses and organizations around acknowledging water issues and managing increasingly complex water processes. A majority of companies ranked water management as a top priority, but lacked necessary processes and systems for administration and control. For example, 77 percent of those surveyed felt that water management was extremely critical to their businesses, but 51 percent lacked formal guidelines for implementation. In addition, 63 percent of executives lacked access to integrated water management systems and decision support systems.
"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."
Key GIO Water Findings:
· You cannot manage what you cannot measure. Water is poorly understood and widely mismanaged. More data is needed to fully understand how water is used by industry, agriculture, and individuals. Water use must be monitored and metered to locate inefficiencies. And both the data and the analyses that result should be shared between governments, academics, and industry.
· Water is an integral part of nearly every other system on the planet, including commerce, food, and energy production. Water is used to make everything from electricity to automobiles. As such, the complex interactions between these systems must be modeled and better understood in order to inform political and economic decisions.
· Despite being the most valuable natural resource on the planet, water is often free or very cheap, unlike food or energy. This leads to waste and misuse. But there are viable models that combine human rights to water and pricing structures that would reduce waste.
· Not all data on water is expensive to collect. In fact, much of it already exists, in bits and pieces, all over the world. It just needs to be collected, coordinated and shared.
· Technology will play an important role in supplying water to the billions of future urban dwellers. Smart infrastructure -- including real-time metering, pipe sensors and automatic repair -- will provide solutions to address urbanization.
“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. 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.” – Neil C. Hawkins, Vice President Sustainability, The Dow Chemical Company.
“Governments, industry and society need to work together to start to address these systems – water, energy and agriculture – in a more strategic and integrated way. We need to use a broader perspective.” – Joppe Cramwinckel, Sustainable Development Lead at Royal Dutch Shell.
"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. 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."
– Brian Richterb, Director of The Nature Conservancy's Global Freshwater Team.
“You can’t manage what you can’t measure. We need all kinds of data collection, including real-time, because it is a lack of credible, available and viable data that is holding us back.” – Doug Miell, Water Resource Management Expert, Miell Consulting.
Additional Multi-Media Materials
• For more information about IBM and water
• To read the GIO Water report online, please visit:
• To order hard copies of the GIO Water report (at no charge):
• To watch themed videos of the GIO Water participants, please visit:
• For regular updates on the progress of the GIO, please visit the GIO blog at:
Images related to IBM's Smarter Planet initiative