Water is essential for life, but it is also a scarce and precious resource that needs to be protected and managed. According to the United Nations, one in three people worldwide do not have access to safe drinking water, and water scarcity affects more than 40% of the global population. Water quality is also threatened by pollution, climate change, and human activities that can introduce harmful bacteria, chemicals, and particles into water sources.
Fortunately, artificial intelligence (AI) offers promising solutions to help improve water quality and ensure its availability for current and future generations. AI can help us monitor, analyze, predict, and optimize various aspects of water management, from detecting leaks and contamination to reducing waste and enhancing efficiency.
Here are some examples of how AI can improve water quality in different scenarios:
Cleaning up the oceans: AI can help us tackle the problem of plastic pollution in the oceans, which affects marine life and human health. For instance, the Ocean Cleanup project uses machine learning to identify plastic pollution in rivers and simulate how it moves in the ocean. These insights power passive cleanup systems that use natural forces to collect and remove plastic from the water.
Monitoring water sources: AI can help us monitor the water quality in rivers, reservoirs, lakes, and taps in real time, using sensors, cameras, and edge devices that can classify and detect harmful bacteria and particles. For example, Clean Water AI uses a deep learning neural network to detect dangerous bacteria and harmful particles in water. Drinking water can be seen at a microscopic level with real-time detection. Cities can install IoT devices across different water sources to monitor water quality and contamination in real time.
Predicting water quality: AI can help us predict how water quality will be affected by various factors, such as weather conditions, climate change, human activity, and natural disasters. For instance, AI can help water companies detect leaks in pipework, using historical data to predict which pipes are most likely to break and when. This allows them to divert funding to maintain and replace the pipes most likely to fail, creating a more efficient water system with higher water quality.
Optimizing water usage: AI can help us optimize how we use water, reducing waste and enhancing efficiency. For example, AI can help farmers irrigate their crops more effectively, using sensors and satellite data to monitor soil moisture and weather conditions. This enables them to apply the right amount of water at the right time, saving water and increasing crop yield.
AI has the potential to transform how we manage water resources and improve water quality for everyone. By using AI to monitor, analyze, predict, and optimize various aspects of water management, we can ensure that water is available, accessible, safe, and sustainable for current and future generations.
Some of the companies that are either developing or using AI solutions for water quality are: