Water resource shortages
Risk of lost livelihoods and income in rural areas due to water resource shortages and reduced agricultural production
Only 0.01% of all water on Earth can be used
The amount of freshwater resources that can be used by humans on Earth is only 0.01%. Water shortages are predicted to occur due to intricately entwined multiple factors, such as climate change and population increase, rapid expansion of water demand due to economic development, and water contamination due to concentration of population in cities. In particular, climate change will melt large areas of ice sheets that hold much of the earth's freshwater. If average temperature increase reaches 4℃, reputedly almost all the ice on earth will be lost. As a result, sea levels will rise, not only wielding damage to coastal regions and ecosystems on a global scale, but also bringing about water shortages to hundreds of millions of people.
Meanwhile, calculations on the global intake of water anticipate an approximate 30% increase by 2025 from the roughly 4,000 km³ in the year 2000 due to economic development in emerging nations mainly in Asia, thus accelerating water shortages. On the flip side of water shortages, water leakage in major cities averages 10%, and over 30% in cities in South America, due to deterioration of water supply facilities. In addition, outfitting of sewage treatment facilities has not caught up with rapid urbanization in emerging nations, bringing about worsened water quality. Along with securement of water resources, sound water circulation to make use of limited water resources without waste will become crucial in the future.
What ICT can do for the stable supply of water resources
ICT can be a great asset to the efficient use of water with zero waste. In response to leakage problems in major cities, sensors installed in water supply pipes capture minute vibrations to pinpoint the locations of leakage and support efficient maintenance. Aside from water pipes, if gauging sensors are laid along entire water supply networks to the user end, management of water supply and demand becomes possible in near real time by processing the large volume of data for the entire region. Not only could improvements be made in leak prevention, water quality, and the reliability and durability of water supply infrastructure, but the electricity required to produce water would also be reduced.
What NEC can contribute to addressing water resource shortages
Monitoring of leakage
Alongside concerns over water shortages due to climate change, the problem of water waste due to leakage along water supply pipelines caused by deterioration of pipe material and quality of construction has arisen. Through the provision of systems that can easily detect and pinpoint the location of leakages, NEC supports efficient maintenance management and the reduction of water waste and energy waste for newly producing water.
- Prompt and efficient leakage countermeasures
- Reduced energy for water production and conveyance
- Appropriate maintenance of facilities
In communities with water resource problems (caused by drought and water contamination), the creation of drinking water from sea water or contaminated water is important. In response to water supply maintenance issues in the aftermath of disasters, NEC supports water circulation and supply in communities through provision of a small-scale mobile purification system suited to demand.
- Prompt supply of safe water during disasters
Smart water management
The effective use and management of water resources is further called for due to the impacts of climate change. Through joint research with the Imperial College London in the United Kingdom on the effective use and management of water resources utilizing ICT, NEC has contributed to solutions to problems related to water resources, such as leakage prevention, reduction of electricity and improvement of water quality, as well as to upgrading and improved reliability and durability of deteriorating water supply infrastructure.
- Prevention of leakage
- Reduction of energy for production and conveyance of water
- Appropriate maintenance of facilities
Support for inspection of sewer culverts
Damage to sewer culverts caused by deterioration and problems in the surrounding environment generate soil contamination from contaminated water and cave-in accidents and invite an increase in treatment burdens at treatment plants due to mixing in of unknown water. By facilitating inspection of sewer culverts and raising inspection speed and coverage, NEC promotes quick handling of damaged locations to support proper water circulation.
- Prompt and efficient upkeep of sewer pipes
- Reduced energy for sewage treatment
- Proper water circulation