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Bunker mentality will never solve the world’s water leakage problem

  • Bunker mentality will never solve the world’s water leakage problem

About the blog

Victoria Edwards
CEO and Co-founder at FIDO Tech.

Published in:

SWM Bimonthly frontpage
Schneider Electric

Forty per cent. It feels like a magic number when it comes to water. It’s the percentage of the earth’s population suffering from water scarcity. It’s the shortfall humanity faces in nine years if the demand for water grows as expected.

And, damningly, in parts of the world, it’s the amount of treated water lost through leakage every day. How can this be? Almost three years from when drought-hit Cape Town, a major city, came within a breath of losing its supply– a phenomenon called Day Zero - why are so many only just waking up to the damage of leakage? No other industry pours (excuse the pun) so much time, money and resource into creating the perfect product only to let it slip away.

For many in the developed northern hemisphere, water scarcity has too long seemed like something in ‘a far-away country of which we know little’. But if world wars and global pandemics teach us anything, it’s that seemingly distant problems can have far-reaching significance. And some, like COVID, are only solved if they’re solved globally.

Leakage is like that. As climate change raises the spectre of more ‘zero’ days, it’s not just the poorer, drier, less developed countries who are worried. Incredibly, even in some advanced nations, the strategy for tackling leakage is still to wait for a customer to call in and report it. Yet, 95% of leaks never show above ground.

We have consciously created a global response to leakage which overcomes challenges of proprietary hardware and network immaturity

In the UK, where strong regulation has driven the issue, leak detection is more mature. Here, networks are divided into district metered areas, pressure management helps reduce water loss, and acoustic and vibration monitors ‘listen’ for potential leaks. This kind of infrastructure takes time and considerable investment. And in a competitive environment, this has led to disparate technologies; locking companies into a Wacky Races scenario of unilaterally-backed proprietary solutions which don’t share information.

Here’s another 40 per cent. Leak sounds are easily masked by traffic, pressure management valves or even usage. Even the most experienced analysts get it wrong 40 per cent of the time. That human error leads to wasted site visits, dry holes and billions on billions of litres of lost water, wasted revenue and stunted economies. No wonder the UK’s leakage rate is stubbornly stuck around the 19 per cent mark.

For places without DMAs and sensors, the outlook had looked even bleaker. Until FIDO came along. FIDO took the view that no-one’s over the finishing line until the last runner gets home. We’ve consciously created a global response to leakage which overcomes challenges of proprietary hardware, network immaturity, heavy investment and human error.

Our super accurate artificial intelligence is the world’s only technology that analyses acoustic and vibration data from any make of sensor to identify leaks/no leaks and, more remarkably, the size of a leak. It works because FIDO is a true application of deep-learning - not just pattern-recognition – is sensor agnostic and trained on absolute truths.

As a result, FIDO no longer needs human intervention or sensor-heavy networks. We believe in smart software but dumb hardware. Where the files come from is irrelevant. AI is the clever bit. As software-as-a-service (Saas), FIDO comes plug-and-play by CAPEX-free monthly subscription. Give us access to your sensor files and we’re up and running.

But what’s really levelling the playing field, and gaining worldwide attention, is the fact that, with simple CAPEX-free hardware called Bugs, FIDO eradicates the need for huge investment in permanent sensors and gives all water systems access to a mature, fully developed leak detection solution almost overnight.

There is no longer any reason or excuse for not tackling leakage. It’s a global problem and we will only solve it globally, collaboratively, together. By leaving our proprietary bunkers and sharing data with technology like FIDO, which crosses boundaries and raises everyone to the level of the best, we help ourselves, and each other, avoid Day Zero.