Smart home technology can help save water

With Asia's water supply under threat from climate change, use of digitisation at home can reduce the carboon footprint

Over the last decade, every nation made water security a key priority, because sustainable access enables livelihoods, and is vital to human well-being and socio-economic development.

Yesterday was World Water Day, aimed at highlighting an increasingly urgent international concern.

Asia's water supply is under threat from climate change.

According to a 2015 Asian Development Bank report, more than three-quarters of countries in Asia face serious water shortages, which pose a real threat to continued growth and prosperity in the region.

Experts have acknowledged that we are pushing our climate past the breaking point, even passing the "carbon threshold" in 2016 - which scientists have said is the "point of no return" for our carbon dioxide levels.

Here in Singapore, we recognise the urgency of addressing climate change, as we dedicate 2018 the Year of Climate Action, a national initiative aimed at raising awareness of climate change.

One of the programmes saw more than 4,000 participants from 30 organisations and educational institutions make a pledge earlier this month to do their part at home to save water and fight climate change.

While citizen action is integral for the fight against climate change, the incremental changes from individual behavioural changes alone will not be sufficient to tackle this issue.

The use of digitisation at home could lead to much greater reduction in one's carbon footprint.

Smart home technology is on the rise, such as lighting that can be controlled with timers, light and motion sensors that can decrease energy usage, and energy management systems.

According to a recent report by Strategy Analytics, smart home devices will overtake the use of smartphones by 2021.

One study by national water agency PUB and the National University of Singapore found that a person could save up to five litres of water a day using smart shower devices.

In response, the Government will be installing such devices in the Housing Board's new Build-to-Order flats from the first quarter of this year.

Each person in Singapore used about 148 litres of water a day in 2016, which remains some way off the 2030 target of 140 litres a day.

But with the help of smart technology, our 2030 goal is achievable.

In our fight against climate change, digitisation is our ultimate ally, but it still takes people to adopt these technologies into their ecosystems in order for us to benefit.

Facing growing water scarcity, both businesses and individuals should not be put off by the cost of advanced intelligent technology, as the benefits in the long run will exceed the upfront investment.

On the government front, continually exploring new innovation is also key.

Lastly, it would be strategic for solution providers to keep sustainability in mind when developing new products and services - the need will only be greater in the future.

Together, we can transition to a more sustainable world through the current digital transformation, and make every drop of water count.

The writer is regional managing director for pump manufacturer Grundfos in Asia Pacific.

This article appeared in The Business Times yesterday.