Microsoft doubles down on digitising water
Industrial Water Digital Solutions Americas

Microsoft doubles down on digitising water

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Microsoft is “doubling down” on its efforts to digitise water data to play a stronger role in influencing public policy and decision making.

The US tech giant says this will help to strengthen the connection between water, carbon and climate.

That’s according to Paul Fleming, global water program manager at Microsoft.

Delivering the (virtual) keynote at the recent Blue Planet Berlin Water Dialogues, he said that: “If carbon is the driver of climate change, then water is the casualty, and that needs to be addressed in our policy frameworks.”

As part of its 2030 commitments to becoming “water positive”, Microsoft plans to expand its current platform to address the prevailing water and environmental challenges by prioritising access, availably and quality of water.

The focus is on replenishing more water than it consumes in each of its 40 corporate locations that experience high water stress, as well as providing clean water access to 1.5 million people.

Microsoft's announcement at the keynote followed its statement last year to become water positive by 2030.

Doubling down

During his keynote, Fleming spoke on a 'new(ish)' initiative that was formed last year - the Water Resilience Coalition.

"We're particularly excited about this as a way to connect, amplify and leverage what has been individualised company commitments into a collective," said Fleming.

To date the coalition has identified 11 priority water basins under significant stress. Through collective action and investment, Microsoft and the other members intend to improve the conditions on these basins and make them smarter. A total of 19 companies to date have all pledged to work collectively on water issues.

As well as concentrating on digitising water data, Microsoft intends to leverage its new platform when it comes to influencing policy.

“We’re excited about this as a way to connect, amplify and leverage individualised company commitments into a collective.”

"We are doubling down on our efforts to digitise water data", Fleming said in the keynote. "And really think about how water data can become an asset that can be leveraged to generate insights and inform decision making."

Microsoft says it is supporting funding for infrastructure through policymaking to strengthen the connection between carbon, water and climate change.

Partnerships crucial to success

Microsoft's final water commitment is to empower its customers through various partnerships, including with EcoLab, Vector Centre, Upstream Tech, Grundfos and Bentley.

“We are very much a partnership company; partnerships are crucial to us to achieve our success," added Fleming.

He detailed how each partnership is helping to achieve its 2030 targets using Microsoft Azure, its data insight platform:

  • EcoLab's is a digital cloud platform that incorporates 3DTrasar, an advanced water performance system, that will allow Microsoft to optimise its operations to save customers 300 billion gallons of water a year while reducing water, energy and waste costs.
  • Vector Centre has helped Microsoft create a 'perception reality engine' that captures and analyses data from user perception data & social media coverage and combines observational data from satellites. The result is a near-real-time AI-powered prediction platform that helps in the decision-making process on potential water threats around the globe.
  • Upstream Tech has created an AI-driven theory hydrological modelling platform that uses satellite imagery to provide enhanced river flow predictions that will work closely with hydroelectric utilities.
  • Grundfos is using Microsoft to help in its transformation into a digital service company, by 2030 they hope to be able to provide 300 million people with clean drinking water and enable its customers to save 50 billion cubic meters of water a year.
  • Bentley is working with Microsoft on its digital twin model iTwins, with the ambition to better bring digital twins into the market to enhance decision making while reducing the massive investment when it comes to IT services.

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