Impact of transformative technology/AI on providing clean drinking water in 2024

By Vijender Reddy Muthyala

Throughout history, human civilization has depended on sources of clean water for its survival. With a growing population and an alarming rise in pollution levels, this elixir of life has become a coveted resource.

Although access to clean drinking water is a basic human right, the reality is different. According to UN reports, almost 40 percent of the world’s people are affected by water scarcity, and a shocking 2.2 billion people do not have access to safe water. A staggering one thousand children die every day worldwide from preventable waterborne diseases caused by a host of waterborne pathogens such as bacteria. They pollute water mainly due to improper sanitation practices and sewage spills into drinking water sources.

Although decision-makers are actively involved in solving these problems, factors such as high costs, the need for advanced technology, etc. widen the gap between goal and reality. It is in this scenario that artificial intelligence (AI), with its data-driven approach and cutting-edge technology, becomes a game-changer in managing our water resources.

How is AI helping to solve the water crisis?

We, as humans, survive by learning the things that happen around us. AI mimics this aspect of human intelligence by learning and adapting to data, but on a much larger scale. AI is now integrated into your daily life from your streaming devices, recommending programs based on your viewing history to shopping website suggestions based on your shopping history. It can have far-reaching benefits in water management, providing cost effectiveness and real-time solutions regardless of geography. Here are a few ways AI is ensuring water safety globally:

  • Identify contaminants: AI-driven image and image recognition technologies help quickly zero in on specific contaminants in water samples. This helps to design customized treatment processes to quickly and effectively deal with the specific pollutant, which can be used by countries depending on their unique topography and pollutants of equal effectiveness.

  • Use predictive analytics: AI can examine historical data related to water quality and pollution sources and predict potential pollution. By using these models, authorities can take proactive measures to limit pollution.

  • Monitor data: With regular monitoring and the ability to analyze vast amounts of data, AI-enabled systems can help policy and decision makers make better-informed decisions related to water treatment and management.

  • Wastewater Management: Using predictive control, AI optimizes various processes to ensure that wastewater is free of harmful contaminants. They analyze data related to wastewater treatment and recommend solutions based on it for maximum efficiency.

  • Improved water purification: By analyzing complex data, AI can arrive at the most optimal and cost-effective methods of water purification. This can significantly lead to less chemical use and reduced energy consumption and costs, which is also good for the environment.

  • Real-time monitoring: Water quality parameters can be continuously monitored with real-time AI-supported sensors to predict potential contamination or aberrations. This helps prevent waterborne infections.

  • Helps prevent leaks and optimize water use: By inspecting data from water distribution networks, AI can detect leaks, thereby helping to prevent them and save water. Likewise, by examining consumption patterns, AI can provide insight to individuals as well as industries about responsible water use practices.

By combining AI with water treatment and the quality realm, we can make a huge improvement in the world of water management, making it more sustainable, robust and efficient to combat water challenges.

(The author is Vijender Reddy Muthyala, Co-Founder and CEO, DrinkPrime, and the views expressed in this article are his own)

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