O17-2020: Digital Water
Describe what is the need of this project?
The problem we are tackling is the lack of effective action regarding the leakages in the water supply network of cities.
The need for this project is to minimize the water lost in the supply network due to internal and external factors. The capital of Mexico, Mexico City loses around 40% of its water in the distribution system due to leaks, while Monterrey city loses around 33%.
The problem is solved but not in an efficient way. Users report leakages that are visible, and the water supply company fixes the leaks. This is reactive action. Ideally, preventive strategic maintenance is applied to avoid water losses and decrease response time.
The scope is to solve the problem for the city of Monterrey using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to predict leaks before they happen, to ensure preventive maintenance, and make the prediction actionable by automatically order and ensure shipment of the parts that will be needed for the fix, before the leak even happens, to ensure decrease response time. This is expected to be achieved using (1) hardware, in the form of water flowmeters or pressure sensors, and (2) real and simulated data of network variables.
The company in charge of supplying water to the whole state, Agua y Drenaje de Monterrey, has shown interested in projects related to AI and digitalization. We have previously presented ideas to the board of directors.
Describe who is affected?
Two parties are affected:
Our scope is:
What are the causes?
(from most common to least):
What is the evidence? Also who can you interview? What can you find out? What experiment can you run?
Ing. Florentino Ayala Vazquez . Projects director, operations and sanation
Start documenting your thoughts and ideas
What is The Big Idea? What is the value proposition?
With an inexpensive machine learning solution and the data from 3 sensors in the pipeline we can detect any kind of leakage in the water system, so that the company can go check and fix the problem in a timely way. Furthermore, we can predict when a leakage will happen to make prevention less expensive than actually fixing a leakage problem.
What are the key metrics?
There are some metrics that we could use to validate our solution once it is implemented:
Who is most likely to be supportive?
The state agency of Monterrey has already supported projects that allow the state to get more water for their population. In the second semester of last year, a new water dam project was accepted.
Also, this is a topic of interest for the general population of Monterrey. Monterrey has had water scarcity issues in the last years, with "Day Zero" seeming close. Just in August 2019, Nuevo León (state where Monterrey is located) scored 4.44 out of 5 in water stress (Rodríguez, 2019). More fruitful water management would better ensure water supply for the population of Monterrey.
Key foes? Who is most likely to oppose?
In our case, the state agency and the government would be the most resistant to change. Since it is a decision made by a state agency, it will also need to be funded and approved by the state government. If it is not in the interest of the current political party any project would be unfeasible without the funds.
Water infrastructure is "mature" and well established in Monterrey. Although the project in mind would not interfere much with the existing network design, we still expect some opposition from the actors previously mentioned out of skepticism.
In addition to this, Mexican culture is not one of prevention, so it is not uncommon for action to be taken once a problem has to be solved. This means that, while the water infrastructure is flawed (losing around 20% of water in leakages), its issues will probably not be addressed until they become bigger (for example, due to water becoming scarce).
Image retrieved from https://adioma.com/icons/negotiation
What is the user experience?
There are two segments of water users:
Within the segments, each segment have different experiences when a leakeage happens, in regards to their needs:
Who has to do what. to make it happen?
In order to achieve an efficient use of water, with no water loss due to leakage:
Who are the key partners to execute? Key partners to help others evaluate your value preposition?\
Key partners to execute:
Key partners to evaluate preposition:
What are the precipitating events?
Cities worldwide are closer to day zero: the point at which there is not enough water to meet the needs of its citizens.
One recent case is that before Covid-19 the city of Monterrey only had 14 months of water left, now, after Covid-19 the city has adjusted its estimates to only 10 months left
who else is in the field?
There are some players in this field:
What's wrong? Missing? Not working?
Our solution uses open source methodologies, tools and services, that allow it to be cheaper, which is the main reason the current solutions are not used by the company, they are expensive.
Our solution is easily scalable as all the sensors needed are already used by the company. (We would have to check the connectivity of the sensors)
Physical and intellectual resources needed (besides financial resources)
Water Density, Water Flow & Water Pressure sensors. (There is a possibility the company already has the sensors that would send the needed information for our solution to work)
Informatics essentials (Server, virtual machines, etc.)
Domain knowledge on alarms and flags used in the company.
Next steps? Pilots?
Our strategy is detailed in the following steps:
Cost structure? Financial Sustainability? Revenue streams?
Costs are segmented as follows:
Once the project is concluded, we have 2 options:
To further prove that there will be a profit, we need detailed costs data that as of today we do not have.
How might this go wrong? How might the problem evolve? What are the legal, cultural and other impediments?
There are several potential risks:
How will i promote adoption?
Promotion needs to be specialized (direct sales) since our potential market is very limited. We could expand the project to several other potential customers such as manufacturing companies or even for residential houses, however, as of today, the scope is only limited to water companies.
¡Viva Mexico!, Ricardo & Arturo met in a water challenge in 2019, Alejandra joined the team in 2020 after the 3 of us took classes on Artificial Intelligence every Saturday with an NGO. We make a video call for this project almost every day! It also keeps us sane with this social distancing government requirement.