When M2M Can Lead Us to Water
The use of M2M for improving corporate profits or enhancing consumer lives has become widely known. However, there are times when the devices and data can be applied to much higher purposes worldwide, such as helping provide fresh clean water to those who do not have ready access to such a vital resource most of us take for granted.
By some estimates, roughly 10% of the world’s population is without access to sufficient water sources. Two organizations are making recent pitches to position mobile technologies as an enabler to a long-term solution, just in time for Earth Month this April.
With its launch of the MECS (mobile enabled community services) program, the GSMA, www.gsma.com, is promoting mobile and infrastructure as resources to help such a matter. Supported by a grant from the U.K. Government's DFID (Dept. for Intl. Development), www.dfid.gov.uk, the two-year program will be implemented by the GSMA’s Mobile for Development division with efforts to create mobile-enabled technologies and businesses that improve access to both water and energy.
Much of the challenge with water quality is related to last mile distribution, operation, and maintenance capabilities and costs, among other factors. The intent of MECS is to facilitate access to affordable and reliable energy and clean water.
In addition, DFID and the GSMA will plan to launch a Challenge Fund open to the mobile industry, start-ups, academia, and the not-for-profit sector. This program will provide seed funding to companies for the purposes of research to identify and develop solutions to overcome obstacles associated with community service provision.
For years, M2M has played its role supporting the development of real solutions to challenges around challenges worldwide. Earlier this year, for example, Gemalto, www.gemalto.com/m2m, announced a project to provide wireless connectivity for a device used in a pilot program to prevent illegal deforestation in the Amazon rainforest of Brazil.
With its technology and significant size and reach, the mobile industry can help address these challenges and provide an unprecedented opportunity for scale in impacting lives. Mobile technology and infrastructure are already being used to improve access to energy and water through product distribution via existing channels, pay-as-you-go financing via mobile payments, and remote activation, monitoring, and data collection.
Another group taking aim at addressing global water issues is Smart CleanTech Partners. It is hosting the Smart Water Investment Forum on June 19, 2013 in San Francisco, a one-day forum designed to raise visibility of emerging water technology solutions.
Seth Cutler, energy and environment industry analyst, Frost & Sullivan, www.frost.com, believes timing is right for such a forum due to such factors as environmental, social, technological, and economic conditions all coming together. Cutler, who will present at the forum, says data and ICT opportunities are converging in the market to provide reliability and depth of insight, which he says had been previously unattainable.
Cutler adds, growth in new data-centric technologies applied across the water network will realize more than $22 billion worth of investment by 2020, representing a growth from less than $6 billion in 2010.
Among the industry stakeholders targeted by the event are startups, small-to-medium-sized enterprises, utilities, and financial investors, among others. It is believed collaboration across all such stakeholders can make quite the difference in helping make smart water actions more of a reality across the globe.
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