Water scarcity affects people worldwide, and one-tenth of the world’s population lacks clean water. Luckily, governments, nonprofits and entrepreneurs are embracing AI algorithms to identify areas where water scarcity is a problem and to take action by providing better sanitation and management.
SwissCognitive Guest Blogger: Zachary Amos – “How AI Can Address Global Water Scarcity Issues”
AI has become a part of everyday life, helping people work, manage their fitness and analyze their finances. However, it can also aid humanity on a grander scale, such as addressing global water scarcity.
Water scarcity affects people worldwide. Unfortunately, climate change exasperates the issue as regions experience drier and hotter conditions. AI algorithms are helping conserve this precious resource and assist those who need it most.
Understanding Water Scarcity
The Earth is made mostly of water, but only a fraction is drinkable. About 3% is freshwater, but of that percentage, only 0.5% is fit for human consumption. This becomes problematic when considering the increasing worldwide population and continued urban development, as well as the effects of climate change.
Water shortages have disastrous effects on human health. Dehydration leads to constipation, cramping and abdominal pain. About one-tenth of the world’s population lacks clean water, putting them at risk of developing dysentery, cholera and typhoid fever. Water scarcity makes agriculture challenging as well, leading to poorer harvests and nutritional deficiencies.
AI to the Rescue
Artificial intelligence has been making waves in addressing the water crisis. Governments, nonprofits and entrepreneurs are embracing AI algorithms to identify areas where water scarcity is a problem, and take action by providing better sanitation and management.
Quality and Treatment
Many shortages stem from poor water quality and contamination. It can be challenging for water boards to combat bacteria, lead and other contaminants before they sicken a population. The events that occurred in Flint, Michigan, are a perfect example.
AI can help improve water quality by using a deep-learning neural network to find harmful particles. Officials can examine water at microscopic levels in real time and devices can help them detect contamination much quicker than humanly possible. Models and conclusions derived from machine learning have been applied to all aspects of water treatment and management systems, including filtration, disinfection and desalination. AI can also provide solutions for pollution control and watershed ecosystem security management.
Conservation and Efficiency
AI has proven helpful in optimizing water usage in various sectors, such as agriculture and urban environments. It is being used for precision irrigation, leak detection and strengthening water distribution systems.
These algorithms can help farmers monitor their crops’ health and identify issues related to irrigation needs, helping them determine the best action to take. They can recommend best practices by combining and analyzing data from environmental and plant health sensors, weather forecasts, and more.
Smart meters equipped with AI can provide real-time feedback to consumers about their water usage. This helps them identify where they can reduce their consumption and actively participate in conservation.
Monitoring and Prediction
Water scarcity can best be managed by monitoring resources through satellite imagery, AI-powered sensors and remote sensing. Taking action is vital since climate change significantly contributes to water scarcity and tracking helps predict potential issues. Although some say AI is part of the problem through its intensive energy use — data centers consume about 200 terawatt hours of power annually — it’s proving valuable.
AI algorithms can analyze large data sets, and offer accurate predictions on water availability and demand. Satellite imaging technology has proven especially beneficial by providing detailed images of water sources in various areas. Researchers can examine rivers, lakes and other waterways to determine their viability.
Tackling Water Scarcity Through AI
Water scarcity is an issue everyone must address as climate change progresses and populations grow. AI is doing its part to mitigate problems and ensure people have access to clean, usable water for years to come.
About the Author:
Zachary Amos is the Features Editor at ReHack, where he writes about artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and other technology-related topics.
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