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12 July, 2018 - 12:05 By Chloe Massarella

Cambridge Consultants technology could help transform global water usage

Product innovator Cambridge Consultants has utilised Artificial Intelligence technology to bring unprecedented insight into residential and industrial water usage.

The company was at a Singapore expo this week demonstrating AquaML, which combines state-of-the-art machine learning technology with a single, low-cost pressure sensor. 

Cambridge Consultants says that the simple, trained system can differentiate between different water-using devices being used in a home or premises, generating water usage data from each, and providing the ‘data disaggregation’ that utilities and building service managers have long demanded. 

Water is a hugely valuable commodity but its scarcity is increasing in many regions of the world – a problem that will only worsen. 

The OECD projects that world water demand will increase by 55 per cent between 2000 and 2050 and by 2060 Singapore’s total water demand could almost double. 

Singapore is felt to be in the vanguard of water innovation and has become a globally renowned hub for technology partnerships as it seeks to guarantee its own water security.

One of the central challenges facing the water industry is in understanding exactly how water is being used once it has been delivered to customers’ premises. 

Access to detailed usage information will unlock new insight, helping utilities to plan for future demand. Improved measurement will enable greater control, while waste from leaks, drips and misuse can be detected and minimised to improve efficiency. All of this is made possible by a single sensor and cutting edge machine learning algorithms. 

AquaML combines a single pressure sensor and a sophisticated machine learning algorithm. When water flows through a pipe to supply an outlet it creates a unique detectable pressure profile that the machine learning algorithm first learns and then uses to identify water usage from separate devices, for example from taps, washing machines, showers or toilets. 

AquaML records the volume of water used and even produces a real-time display of the water usage by outlet. 

Previously, the only way of gaining this usage data was to install sensors at each device, perhaps hundreds, which would be both expensive and complex to maintain.

Data generated by AquaML allows a utility to understand how water is used within individual households. Beyond simply knowing how much water an apartment block uses, a utility can now break down that usage by showers, toilets and individual sinks.

“Water is a precious resource and must be harnessed in the most sustainable and efficient way possible,” said Wang Bin, VP Industrial and Energy, Cambridge Consultants. 

“By applying the latest machine learning technology, in a completely new approach, we can provide detailed insights into precise usage of water on a scale that has never before been viable.”

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Wang Bin. Image courtesy – Cambridge Consultants

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