As those of us who live in drought-stricken areas know, water is a precious commodity. IBM knows it too, which is why the company announced plans today to launch a new line of water services—a market that IBM thinks will be worth $20 billion in five years.
One day in the not-so-distant future, IBM hopes that data from your water meter will feed directly into the local utility's computer network, leading to increased efficiency in the oversight of water supplies as well as quicker reaction times in case of contamination. When that day comes, IBM wants to be a part of the infrastructure.
The company's water management technology is already being tested at Galway Bay in Ireland. IBM's SmartBay program monitors marine life, pollution levels, and wave conditions around the bay for research evaluation. The Irish Times speculates that SmartBay could be used for flood alerts, climate change research, and even as a decision-making tool for families deciding whether or not to go to the beach.
Eventually, technology derived from the SmartBay products will monitor water-works in pipes, reservoirs, harbors, and rivers.
IBM also recently announced a new filtration technology that could drastically increase the amount of drinkable water on the planet by using a membrane that removes toxins and salts.
It's hard to imagine how IBM's efforts with water tech could go wrong—no matter how bad our economy gets, we still need those eight glasses a day.