Why cities need smart water

The next frontier in sustainability: reducing water loss.

Americans waste nearly six billion gallons of fresh water a day – and that’s before it even reaches their homes.

The Center for Neighborhood Technology estimates that between 14 to 18 percentof our nation’s water supply is lost through leaks, breaks, faulty meters and generally inefficient, aging infrastructure. Drought-stricken California, for example, loses as much as 228 billion gallons a year this way, according to the Los Angeles Daily News, and sometimes in spectacular fashion. In July 2014, 20 million gallons of water gushed through the UCLA campus after a nearly century-old water main burst under Sunset Boulevard. According to news reports, it took city officials nearly four hours to fix the break while buildings and garages flooded and at least five people needed rescue.

Replacing the nation’s water infrastructure is both unlikely and unaffordable, but the world of big data might have a better answer: “smart water.” By using information technology to make water utilities more efficient, cities can stop leaks, save water and better target their investments in infrastructure.

Continued at the Washington Monthly…

Open Data, Better Cities

What Works Cities, a new $42 million initiative, will help cities use data to improve performance and policy.

In San Francisco, foodies seeking adventure (but not food poisoning) can see health inspection scores along with reviews while browsing for restaurants on Yelp.

In Louisville, Kentucky, asthma patients can sign up for “smart inhalers” to help the city map where asthma attacks are most common, discover the triggers and shift policies for cleaner air.

And in New Orleans, city residents can visit a site called BlightStatus to track blighted properties in their neighborhood and look for property code violations.

Across the country, efforts like these are awakening cities to the potential of open data as a way to transform citizens’ experiences with government and to improve both policymaking and performance. Seizing on this momentum, Bloomberg Philanthropies recently launched a $42 million initiative – What Works Cities – to help 100 mid-size cities get better government through data. Already, more than 100 cities have applied.

Continued at the Washington Monthly…