Could big data end our drought problems?

Globally, people are beginning to realise they can't continue using resources, especially water, with such abandon as they have in the past. If the torrid pace of water waste is maintained, we're going to find ourselves in a very tight spot in the near future.

Fortunately, big data can make a significant difference in how water usage is tracked and how to conserve that water.

With numerous big data cloud platforms to choose from, cities and states can find options that fit their budget and provide the services necessary to make a difference.

Water use

We use water in so many different ways — landscape, garden, cooking, washing, bathroom — that it's easy to become accustomed to having whatever we need, whenever we need it.

While it's a nice to have such access, it has in many ways numbed individuals to water waste because we've taken for granted our access to water for so long.

Big data

It's becoming increasingly important for municipalities to find ways to better monitor and track water usage to ensure sufficient water supply in the case of emergencies, which we've had our fair share of recently.

Big data is also important in determining how much water to maintain in the case of lower-than-normal accumulations.

With big data these entities can curb water waste and secure sufficient water supplies. In India and Europe big data has already been implemented with great success and similar results are being seen in drought-stricken California.

Tracking

Some of the biggest perpetrators in the water waste arena are undetected leaks within the home plumbing or with outside irrigation. With so many water outlets inside and outside of homes, it's easy to miss a leak. And often, it's not until the sky high water bill comes at the end of the month that residents realise something is wrong with the water supply.

With the increase in automatic payments and equalised payments throughout the year, it's even easier to miss these problems because property owners don't look at the bill or give it a quick glance without realising there's a problem.

With smart meters that constantly analyse water usage and big data, cities can monitor water usage on a daily and hourly basis. Cities can then alert residents with higher-than-average usage that something is happening before the monthly bill comes out.

Additionally, many residents that use water for watering gardens and lawns do so during the hottest parts of the day — the worst time to water. With the information gleaned from smart meters, cities can implement better plans to educate residents and, if necessary, implement restrictions to increase water conservation.

Pricing

Just as big data has been a key factor in pricing for businesses in a variety of fields, so too can it help municipalities with the pricing of water.

Because of the tracking capabilities big data brings, it simplifies the process cities go through to measure the current supply and demand along with the expected supply and demand to give residents the lowest and most accurate price.

Storage

Another area in water conservation that big data can improve for municipalities is the ability to more accurately predict water needs and necessities in the future, combined with the current water use.

This in turn can help cities in their preparation of emergency funds and in ensuring adequate amounts during the year.

Few efforts trump that of resource conservation, and especially water. With big data, municipalities across the country and globe can work together to significantly decrease consumption.

Gil Allouche is the Vice President of Marketing at Qubole, a provider of big data cloud platforms