IBM and the City of Dubuque, Iowa have teamed up to launch the Smarter Sustainable Dubuque Water Pilot Study. This project involves the installation of smart water meters, that with the help of volunteer citizens, will allow the city to collect and analyze data about water consumption trends and patterns. The goal of the study is to demonstrate how informed citizens can help make a city sustainable by encouraging behavioral changes that will result in conservation, cost reduction, and leak repair.

"What our volunteer households are accomplishing is the first step to understanding waste and ultimately the conservation of valuable resources to sustain life quality for generations to come, " says Dubuque Mayor Roy D. Buol.

Dubuque has implemented a city-wide water meter upgrade project that will let consumers identify waste as well as consider corrective measures that will hopefully translate into better water utilization and energy savings.

And to accompany the new meters, IBM has built a cloud-based tool - the IBM Smarter City Sustainability Model - that will give take the water consumption data and given the city a near real-time view of usage. The system will monitor water consumption every 15 minutes, and the data will be analyzed in order to help spot potential leaks and other anomalies, as well as to help the participants in the study understand their water consumption.

This system is being piloted in 311 homes. These volunteers can only see their own data, but the city will be able to see the aggregated information.

While cities often gather massive amounts of data, the key is using this information to improve living conditions. As Robert Morris, vice president for IBM Research argues, "The challenge is in accessing that data, integrating it and making sense of it. The IBM Smarter City Sustainability Model is an asset that will help citizens, city management, businesses and utilities understand and jointly manage resource consumption and optimization."

Photo credits: Flickr user Peter Dutton