Growth is inevitable in a world with rapidly advancing technology. But with economic progress, there is also the issue of increasing population and changing environmental conditions. With progress comes the depletion of precious natural resources. Of all these natural resources, the most important one is water.
Both developed and developing nations face the challenge of ensuring the reliable sources of water are available to people. This includes drinking water and water for sanitary use. Besides managing water resources, it is critical to have the necessary information about availability of this valuable resource.
As sources of natural fresh water dwindle rapidly across the globe, water management is the need of the hour and Information and Communication technology presents itself as an effective tool in this effort.
Some ICT tools that are being used today to manage water resources are:
- Satellite remote sensing and GIS or geographical information systems to study the consumption of water usage, track and predict water level in natural sources and identify fresh sources of water.
- Communication networks and web-based sensors to offer real time information about changing factors such as temperature, rainfall patterns and soil moisture.
- Smart metering technologies to help to measure water usage and manage water demand
- Radio-based ICT systems used by water utility companies to map water resources.
ICT is being used as a strategic tool to come up with unique solutions for water management, especially in resolving water scarcity. It enables data collection and analysis, making is possible to improve accuracy in weather forecasting.
Considering that water resources are limited, the main requirement is the assessment of current water supply so that steps can be taken to predict and make arrangements for meeting future water demand.
The outlook for ICT in water management
The potential of ICT is practically unlimited when it comes to improving water resource management. It can combine real-time data on water consumption at the domestic, commercial and city level. It also enables the application of effective strategies for resource and demand management as well as pricing systems.
With a focus on demand management and solutions for resource efficiency, ICT has the power to improve awareness and modify consumer behavior. Bottlenecks are unavoidable in the process, but the good news is that ICT offers scalable solutions and connects water stakeholders in their common quest for water conservation.
While ICT has emerged as a critical tool to understand and respond to water supply and demand challenges and is being increasingly used as a key mechanism for decision making, it is important to bear in mind that it is just that – a smart mechanism, and not a final solution.