Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Posts Tagged ‘water conservation

Blue Water

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Population growth, massive urbanization and climate change are placing increasing demands on our limited water supply. Forty one percent of the world’s population – that’s 2.3 billion people – live in water-stressed areas; this number is expected to grow to 3.5 billion by 2025.

And according to the United Nations, water use has been growing at more than twice the rate of population increase over the last century.

With advances in technology — deep computing and Big Data analytics linked to sophisticated sensor networks and smart meters — IBM is helping clients and partners make smarter decisions about water management.

By monitoring, measuring and analyzing water systems, from rivers and reservoirs to pumps and pipes, we can better understand the issues around water.  IBM is applying its expertise in smart systems and Big Data to help companies, governments and citizens understand and more effectively deal with these issues.

Waterfund LLC announced today that it has signed an agreement with IBM to develop a Water Cost Index (WCI).

Scientists from IBM Research will apply Big Data expertise, acting as a calculation agent, to analyze large and diverse unstructured data sets. This will be used to develop of a WCI framework that would estimate the cost of water in different regions around the world. With its market and financial product expertise, Waterfund will work to structure and commercialize the WCI.

Discerning The Real Cost Of Water

As governments are increasingly forced to turn to the private sector to fund the construction and maintenance of complex water networks, the Rickards Real Cost Water Index™ will serve as a benchmark for helping measure hundreds of critical projects on a like-for-like basis.

Index values will reflect estimated water production costs measured in US dollars per cubic metre for a variety of major global water infrastructure projects ranging from retail water utilities and wholesale water utilities to major transmission projects.

“The backlog of investment in water systems around the world by some estimates approaches $1 trillion – quite apart from the hundreds of millions of people who have never had access to a water or sanitation system at all,” said IBM Distinguished Engineer and Big Green Innovations CTO Peter Williams.

“By creating a benchmark cost for water we intend to harness the capital market to this supremely important cause. If we can make it easier to price investments in the water sector, we can improve the flow of capital into an area where it is desperately needed. We look forward to working with Waterfund to bring this about.”

Scott Rickards, President & CEO of Waterfund said, “The principal reason behind our decision to work with IBM was their unique combination of expertise in the water sector combined with the best data analytics available. Our initiative with IBM will finally bring real financial transparency to the water sector. By calculating the unsubsidized cost of freshwater production using IBM’s Big Data expertise, Waterfund can offer the first flexibly-tailored financial tools to investors in water infrastructure. The Rickards Real Cost Water Index™ highlights the energy costs, interest rate risk, and capital expenditures required to build and maintain large-scale water treatment and delivery networks.”

Smarter Water Management Examples

Typically, investors have turned to the public equity markets to gain exposure to the water sector, with mixed results. The WCI is intended to provide a market benchmark and to spur the development of third-generation financial products for both water producers and investors and to aid the growth of the water sector globally.

Here are two examples of how it would work:

Scenario 1: A Water Agency cannot obtain bank financing for Phase 2 of a seawater desalination plant project due to previous cost overruns on Phase

1. Yet the Agency lacks the water it needs to supply a contractually specified daily volume of water to its largest customer, with a consequent risk of large penalties for each day of insufficient volume. Using strike and trigger values based on the WCI, the Water Agency could purchase a $25 million, 2 year insurance product.

Payout to the Water Agency would be triggered on the total change in its Water Cost Index (as well as some other conditions, such as a specified increase in asset failure costs).  This approach would enable the Water Agency to enhance its overall credit profile with the insurance enabled by the WCI, finance Phase 2 of the desalination plant and meet its supply obligations.

Scenario 2: A large desalination and water transmission system project needs to secure private equity and institutional funding alongside that from development banks and sovereign funds, to the tune of one third of the total project cost. To achieve this, the project needs a way to reduce risk to its investors.

Based on movement in the WCI, the project could purchase $50 million in insurance. This would enable the insurance product to then be underwritten by a large reinsurer and allow the project to secure the private sector contribution it needs in order to proceed.

Go here to learn more about IBM Smarter Water Management initiatives.  You can also go here to register for a report IBM prepared on why we need smarter water management for our world’s most precious resource.

Raining Cats And Dogs

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It’s raining cats and dogs here in Austin.

After a nice, long sunny Labor Day weekend, the front edge of Hurricane Hermine seems to have made its way inland and providing the Central Texas area with some much needed water.

A shortage of water is not a problem indigenous to Central Texas.

In the last 100 years, global water usage has increased at twice the rate of population growth, and the United Nations predicts that nearly half the world’s population will experience critical water shortages by the year 2025.

Today, World Community Grid, a worldwide network of PC owners helping scientists solve humanitarian challenges, announced several computing projects aimed at developing techniques to produce cleaner and safer water, an increasingly scarce commodity eluding at least 1.2 billion people worldwide.

One initiative will simulate how human behaviors and ecosystem processes relate to one another in watersheds such as the Chesapeake Bay. Other projects will explore advanced water filtering techniques and seek cures for a water-borne disease.

To accelerate the pace, lower the expense, and increase the precision of these projects, scientists will harness the IBM-supported World Community Grid to perform online simulations, crunch numbers, and pose hypothetical scenarios.

The processing power is provided by a grid of 1.5 million PCs from 600,000 volunteers around the world. These PCs perform computations for scientists when the machines would otherwise be underutilized.

Scientists also use World Community Grid — equivalent to one of the world’s fastest supercomputers — to engineer cleaner energy, cure disease and produce healthier food staples.

The University of Virginia Watershed Sustainability Project will use World Community Grid to power its “UVa Bay Game/Analytics” project, which models the effects of agricultural, commercial and industrial decisions on the Chesapeake Bay.

This waterway is a vital estuary on the East Coast of the United States stretching 64,000 square miles with 11,600 miles of tidal shoreline, and home to nearly 17 million people.

It will simulate and analyze the results of choices made by the sometimes-competing interests of fishermen, farmers, real estate developers, power plant designers, conservationists, forestry experts and urban planners. Better understanding the potential outcomes of complex, intersecting decisions can help society manage the watershed more effectively.

Another new water-related project, called “Computing For Clean Water,” is looking to produce more efficient and effective water filtering, and is now getting underway at Tsinghua University’s newly launched Centre for Novel Multidisciplinary Mechanics in China.

The idea is to develop ways to filter and scrub polluted water, as well as convert saltwater into drinkable freshwater, with less expense, complexity, and energy than current techniques.

The effort will seek to reduce the pressure and energy required to force water through microscopic, nanometer-sized pores in tubes made of carbon, whose tiny holes prevent harmful organic material from being transmitted. Scientists need to produce millions of computer simulations to model how water molecules interact with one another and against the walls of these carbon nanotubes.

A third initiative, to be run on World Community Grid out of Brazil’s Inforium Bioinformatics, in collaboration with FIOCRUZ-Minas, is seeking to cure schistosomiasis, a significant, parasite-based disease prevalent in tropical regions that is incubated and transmitted via foul water.

The World Health Organization lists this disease as highly necessary to control. It kills from 11,000 to 200,000 people every year and infects about 210 million individuals in 76 countries. It takes a severe toll on undeveloped countries, causing about 1.7 million disability-adjusted life-years of burden annually. While the drug Praziquantel has been largely effective in treating the disease for more than 25 years, drug-resistant strains are of concern.

Researchers will now seek to identify human protein targets for possible new drug treatments. They will use the World Community Grid to screen up to 13 million compounds found in the zinc.docking.org database against 180 protein structures involved with the parasite.

While this may not lead to new drugs immediately, it will greatly augment the study of this disease by scientists around the world.

IBM donated the server hardware, software, technical services and expertise to build the infrastructure for World Community Grid and provides free hosting, maintenance and support.

Individuals can donate time on their computers for these and many other humanitarian projects by registering on www.worldcommunitygrid.org, and by installing a free, unobtrusive and secure software program on their personal computers running either Linux, Microsoft Windows or Mac OS.

When idle or between keystrokes on a lightweight task, the PCs request data from World Community Grid’s server, which runs Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC) software, maintained at Berkeley University and supported by the National Science Foundation.

World Community Grid is also part of People for a Smarter Planet — a dynamic and intelligent network of activities, conversations and discussions in which anyone can participate to help build a sustainable and smarter world.

At People for a Smarter Planet, people can share ideas, engage and discuss, or participate in one of the growing list of projects like World Community Grid.

Written by turbotodd

September 7, 2010 at 2:18 pm

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