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O17-2020: Digital Water

O17-2020: Digital Water

by alejandra amudha criperc j.arellano.arturo | updated July 28, 2020
based on O17-2020: Team XX

0

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.

 

March 29, 2020 at 11:35 PM
Created by amudha
Edited by criperc and j.arellano.arturo
Comments (2)
Localized, specific, even measured. Very good!
At the same time, what exactly is the problem with water wasting? Is it loss of water itself, is it cost, is it building maintenance (maybe it's bad for the structures?)
I'm not questioning that this is a bad thing, just wondering a bit deeper.
6 months ago
Hola Mexico! I find the problem you presented very interesting, after listening to you on video calls I was curious.. ¿How many places in Mexico this happens?
6 months ago

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Describe who is affected?

Two parties are affected:

  • Citizens from any city. As water is an important natural resource, losing water means less water for people.
  • Companies in charge of supplying water.

Our scope is:

  • Citizens from Monterrey and Mexico City.
  • Mexican company in charge of supplyng water: "Agua y Drenaje de Monterrey"

 

 

 

 

March 29, 2020 at 11:35 PM
Created by amudha
Edited by criperc and j.arellano.arturo
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What are the causes?

(from most common to least):

  • Natural process of wear
  • Installation defects
  • Huge, complex distribution systems that are hard to monitor effectively and all around, thus possibly slowing down the detection and/or the repair of leakages.
  • Illegal invasion (clandestine takings of water)
  • Natural disasters such as eathquakes

Source: https://www.excelsior.com.mx/nacional/crean-cientificos-de-la-uvm-sistema-contra-fugas-de-agua/1248105


 

March 29, 2020 at 11:40 PM
Created by amudha
Edited by criperc and j.arellano.arturo
Comments (2)
Additionally...
- irresponsible consumer action (i. e. not repairing home leakages promptly or reporting anomalies)
- sluggish (if any) action/initiative from the water services department to respond to reports
- huge, complex distribution systems that are hard to monitor effectively and all around, thus possibly slowing down the detection and/or the repair of leakages.
6 months ago
Great.
6 months ago

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What is the evidence? Also who can you interview? What can you find out? What experiment can you run?

https://www.milenio.com/ciencia-y-salud/sociedad/se-fuga-32-del-agua-en-monterrey-famm

Ing. Florentino Ayala Vazquez . Projects director, operations and sanation

March 29, 2020 at 11:44 PM
Created by amudha
Edited by criperc and j.arellano.arturo
Comments (1)
Interview with a representative of CONAGUA (National Water Commission)
6 months ago

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Start documenting your thoughts and ideas

 

  • Godinez Madrigal, van der Zaag & van Cauwenbergh (2018) have identified poor maintenance to leakages and lack of monitoring and law enforcement as two of the main drivers of water crises all around Mexico. Additionally, they believe adding population and economic growth to these management failures will continue to widen the gap between water supply and demand. Actions need to be taken to prevent a critical shortage of quality water resources that lead to conflict. (https://www.proc-iahs.net/376/57/2018/piahs-376-57-2018.pdf)
  • "The system of getting the water from there to here [...] is also a crazy feat, in part a consequence of the fact that the city, with a legacy of struggling government, has no large-scale operation for recycling wastewater or collecting rainwater [...] Mexico City now imports as much as 40 percent of its water from remote sources — then squanders more than 40 percent of what runs through its 8,000 miles of pipes because of leaks and pilfering." (Kimmelman, 2017) (https://nyti.ms/2lqgt2O)
  • Gutierrez (2019) explores water issues in Mexico: "More than a physical water scarcity problem, Mexico City has a water distribution problem. [...] Mexico City’s water challenges are multi-dimensional and include the availability and security of the water itself dependent on aquifer health; the quality of its aging distribution infrastructure that is further stressed by subsidence; and the inability of formal systems to account for and properly serve informal settlements". The author also discusses that Mexico City still has work to do to achieve the SDG 2030 to achieve access to drinking water for all, emphasizing the need for accurate data about the population actually served by the water system. One of the recommendations the author makes is to fix leaking infrastructure caused by deteriorating pipes and illegal connections, allocating more funds to repairs and maintenance. (https://penniur.upenn.edu/uploads/media/02_Gutierrez.pdf)

March 29, 2020 at 11:35 PM
Created by amudha
Edited by alejandra and criperc
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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.

 

Image retrieved from
https://ane4bf-datap1.s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/wmocms/s3fs-public/ckeditor/files/water-data_0.jpg?GBwM6fVDoQeE2PpeKJtrsUdUkPn4kJrH 

March 29, 2020 at 11:35 PM
Created by amudha
Comments (3)
The problem of water loss caused by leakage could be improved by providing a way to better manage and monitor the complex piping infrastructure. Specifically, if we could provide a mechanism that detects anomalies (i. e. leakages) along the piping, actions could be taken promptly to fix and maintain it.
6 months ago
Nice! (Entry and comment, too.)
What would these sensors be sensing?
6 months ago
Good start. I would suggest stating more clearly how bad this problem is here - e.g. what percent of water is lost due to leakage. You could then show, quantitatively, the improvement that your project could bring.
6 months ago

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What is the mechanism of beneficial change?

March 29, 2020 at 11:35 PM
Created by amudha
Edited by j.arellano.arturo
Comments (4)
I can think of 3 beneficial changes: First the reduction of water waste and losses for the company.
It could pave the way for other cities in Mexico to implement our cheap solution in their distribution systems.
There is already a city-movement to bring Industry 4.0 technologies to the organizations in the region, this could be another push for the Monterrey region to modernize.
6 months ago
- We believe this approach would reduce time in detecting leakages. Reducing time in the location and the fixing of water leakages could greatly reduce water loss over time.
- Water piping infrastructure is complex enough to monitor even at city level. Aiding in leakage detection could relieve other water management processes.
6 months ago
Ok, cool
6 months ago
Great job! Maybe you could touch upon the environmental aspects of water leakage?
6 months ago

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What are the key metrics?

There are some metrics that we could use to validate our solution once it is implemented:

  • We will be able to measure the number of liters of water lost every second, which in turn can be translated in to cash lost.
  • Also, a metric that the solution could be tested on in the future is the time taken to detect leakages.

March 29, 2020 at 11:35 PM
Created by amudha
Comments (2)
Cool. I'd add then "liters of water lost". Seems to be important itself.
6 months ago
You could also do it during different time scales to show the scale of the problem
6 months ago

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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.

https://www.proceso.com.mx/578233/oficializan-construccion-de-nueva-presa-en-nuevo-leon

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.  

https://d.elhorizonte.mx/local/alertan-a-nl-se-le-acaba-el-agua-al-estado/2606509

March 29, 2020 at 11:35 PM
Created by amudha
Comments (3)
This is an interesting point, water is extremely cheap in Monterrey and in Mexico in general, this makes everybody not give a lot of value to water, even the state agency
6 months ago
Well explained.
6 months ago
Nice job talking about incentives. How do Monterrey's water use and water stress compare with the rest of Mexico? The rest of North / Central America
6 months ago

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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

March 29, 2020 at 11:35 PM
Created by amudha
Comments (2)
One mentor told us that dealing with any government agency is always a problem of money. They will always tell you that they don't have enough funds.
Source: Dr. Paloma Gomez, Iniciativa Nuevo Leon 4.0
6 months ago
Have you considered the costs of the sensors you need by different quantities? Do you know anyone with leverage to make that space in public funding, or that you could reach out to?
How could you create pressure to get such a project and expenditure approved?
6 months ago

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What is the user experience?

 

There are two segments of water users:

  • Providers
  • Consumers

Within the segments, each segment have different experiences when a leakeage happens, in regards to their needs:

  • Providers receive complaints from consumers (their users) via phone, mobile app, or other media, when a visible leakage is detected. In response, the company sends a troop to fix the leakage. Real data has shown that around 90% of the leakages are fixed on time. Providers care about fast solution. For non-visible, non-detectable leakages, we have no information to understand how the company detects and fixes them. 
  • Consumers report leakages to the company when they are visible. Consumers care about having a basic need: water. But they also want a fast fix, since they are likely to have their water cut.

 

April 13, 2020 at 10:04 PM
Created by amudha
Edited by criperc and j.arellano.arturo
Comments (1)
This is a good start, but it is important to break down these two segments into smaller groups. Providers could be the suppliers, distributors, regulators, etc. (maybe they're the same, maybe they're different). Consumers could be agriculture, industry, commercial or residential. Look into which sector uses the most water (it's almost always agriculture, which uses 70% of freshwater worldwide), and see the price structure of how they get water. Do they pay the same rate as residential consumers?
6 months ago

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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:

  • Water providers needs to:
    • Invest in new infrastructure
    • Invest in AI solutions
    • Invest in labor 
    • Invest in IT & Cloud services
  • Local government needs to:
    • Provide the capital needed
    • Provide the required legal permits & collaboration
  • Users
    • Keep reporting leakages
  • Team F
    • Provide the AI solution to water providers 

March 29, 2020 at 11:35 PM
Created by amudha
Edited by criperc
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Who are the key partners to execute? Key partners to help others evaluate your value preposition?\

Key partners to execute:

  • Water supplier company
    • To execute, it would be ideal to have real historic data
  • A company that provides water flowmeters or pressure sensors
    • To execute, we need to have real hardware, and possibly execute lab tests

Key partners to evaluate preposition:

  • Open17 Staff Team
  • Experts in AI
  • Key staff within the water company 

 

April 13, 2020 at 10:23 PM
Created by amudha
Edited by criperc and j.arellano.arturo
Comments (1)
I would assume that water suppliers already have this hardware, but you should confirm this.
6 months ago

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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

April 13, 2020 at 10:24 PM
Created by amudha
Edited by criperc and j.arellano.arturo
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who else is in the field?

There are some players in this field:

  • Private companies 
    • Usually offer hardware oriented solutions, hence expensive, slow, but accurate
  • Reseachers
    • We have identified many researchers working with leakage solutions. They tend to be software solutions - using AI

April 13, 2020 at 10:19 PM
Created by amudha
Edited by criperc and j.arellano.arturo
Comments (1)
Can you provide some links to the research being conducted?
6 months ago

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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)

April 13, 2020 at 10:33 PM
Created by amudha
Edited by j.arellano.arturo
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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.

April 13, 2020 at 10:30 PM
Created by amudha
Edited by j.arellano.arturo
Comments (1)
https://waterservices.usgs.gov/

https://water.usbr.gov/RWISmap.php

Not sure if these will help, but they are examples of water quality and quantity. Not user-intuitive websites, but lots of data!
6 months ago

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Next steps? Pilots?

Our strategy is detailed in the following steps:

  1. Gather real data regarding:
    1. Reported leakages & time needed to repair them
    2. Water loss (volume/time or volume)
    3. Water Pipe Network (Distance, pipe material, start and end points, pipe junctions, etc)
    4. If needed, simulate data using software
  2. Establish mathematical approach & equations needed to create mechanic fluids & momentum models
  3. Once established, translate maths into programming and fit the model to a AI model (such as Random Forest, LSTM, etc)
  4. Export software model into a real scenario. Prove our model in a scalated water network simulation. This will be done in a lab using real sensors and pipes.
  5. Connect software into a dashboard so it's user friendly 

March 29, 2020 at 11:35 PM
Created by amudha
Edited by criperc
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Cost structure? Financial Sustainability? Revenue streams?

Costs are segmented as follows:

  • Fixed
    • Web hosting server
    • External APIs (if used)
  • Variable
    • R&D costs
    • Materials costs when lab testing (sensors, pipes, etc)
    • Technical support

 

Once the project is concluded, we have 2 options:

  • Sell the full project to "Agua y Drenaje de Monterrey", the company in charge of supplying water to the state
  • Sell monthly subscription and expand the software to be used to other water companies outside Monterrey or even Mexico. 

To further prove that there will be a profit, we need detailed costs data that as of today we do not have. 

March 29, 2020 at 11:35 PM
Created by amudha
Edited by criperc
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How might this go wrong? How might the problem evolve? What are the legal, cultural and other impediments?

 

 

There are several potential risks:

  • Project ends up not being very accurate, therefore not useful
  • Since water companies are regulated by local government, water companies may not invest due to limited budget and lots of local governmet approvals, which is very likely not to be approved
  • Water companies could reach out to established and recognized companies such as Atos consulting, Accenture, McKinsey and they could deliver our project in a shorter time and more professional way
  • Since our potential market is highly limited (only water companies), the project could go bust very easily if water companies decide to cut ties

March 29, 2020 at 11:35 PM
Created by amudha
Edited by criperc
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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. 

March 29, 2020 at 11:35 PM
Created by amudha
Edited by criperc
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April 6, 2020 at 3:38 AM
Created by j.arellano.arturo and criperc
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¡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.

Question
This should be under Team F block but I can NOT move it there!
April 6, 2020 at 6:24 PM
Created by criperc and j.arellano.arturo
Comments (3)
Arturo, drag it under the team F box, until you see the Team F box gets highlighted! Since I am not a collaborator here, I don't have the access rights to move it.
6 months ago
Amudha, moving the box until highlighted does not work. It just moves the box to the left end.
6 months ago
Nice description!
6 months ago

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