Aquamatix thinks it can solve the water crisis with the internet of things

There are companies trying to solve all sorts of data and application-development problems at our Structure: Europe LaunchPad competition next week, but only one trying to solve the world’s water crisis. Whether we’re talking about a shortage of potable water or water, period, Aquamatix thinks sensor networks and a cloud platform can go a long way toward making sure water gets where it’s needed most.

Aquamatix started two years ago, Managing Director Laurie Reynolds told me, after seeing over the past few years how smart-grid technologies were reshaping the world’s electrical utilities. He had spent years working on large water and telecom systems, and recognized how having intelligent agents dispersed throughout a network was applicable to water, as well.

Just like the electric grids in many countries are woefully outdated, “the world is facing a potential crisis [in water management],” Reynolds said. But no matter how much we improve treatment plants or processing facilities, he added, “it’ll still be the same underground pipework and infrastructure that these cities are relying on.”

Fixing these underground systems isn’t cheap, though, and strapped municipal budgets make mass overhauls unlikely. However, if sensors deep within water networks can detect issues with water quality, leakage, pressure or other issues, then cities can target their repairs to places that need them most.

Aquamatix aims to serve as an integrator of sorts, combining best-in-class sensors and other components with the company’s WaterWorX cloud platform for displaying and managing the data they’ll produce. WaterWorX is built atop the ThingWorx platform for M2M applications. Reynolds said his company also working on an “interoperable data standard” called SWIM and a system called PumpWorX that targets inefficiencies in water pumps. In countries like the United States and United Kingdom, he noted, pumping water can account for between 3 and 4 percent of total energy consumption.

The company is trying to tackle a huge problem, and one only hopes it isn’t overcome by the huge obstacles in the way. There are cash-strapped governments, large agricultural lobbies (farming uses about 70 percent of the world’s potable water) that might resist costly efficiency measures and even large vendors such as IBM that know a thing or two about this problem.

Reynolds is confident, though, and Aquamatix is already working with two big customers — one in the U.K. and one in Japan. And, hey, water quality and quantity is arguably a life-or-death issue as cities continue to grow around the world. If there’s one problem that cries out for a ton of innovation, this is it.

Feature image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons user Bidgee.