They say that wars will some day be fought over water. In the meantime, a military-inspired flying "3G Drone" is helping pinpoint water loss in Israel. The "advanced meter intel collection" system was developed by Master Meter, an arm of Arad Technologies LTD, located in Israel. According to Arad, the drone is completely GPS self-guided, and captures consumption data and information on theft, tampering, leaks and stuck meters from the company's patented water-meter system. The drone is battery-powered and constructed of lightweight carbon fiber.
You can launch it with by hand and it returns via parachute. Arad calls it "powerful weaponry for water preservation."
As explained by Fast Company:
"Arad's system is built around what looks like a standard meter. The difference is on the inside, where you'll find 3G wireless technology, a microcontroller, and 20-year batteries.
Every 11 to 30 seconds, the system transmits data, which can be picked up by a drone (best for quickly covering big distances in remote areas) or by a drive-by or fixed-base reader. The data are then analyzed by computer to gauge how much water has been consumed, how much was lost, and even where tampering may have taken place. As a result, companies can save both water and man hours."
In other words, 3G is good for more than the iPhone. And water is a precious resource. This summer's heat has made it even more precious in places like Texas, where there are restrictions on water use to help manage supply. For utilities, water loss from old, leaky systems means lost revenue for upkeep, too. It's been estimated that more than 35 billion gallons of fresh, clean water leaks from Detroit water pipes each year.
The World Bank estimates that wasted water costs utilities $14 billion a year worldwide, Fast Company notes. In developing countries, 200 million more people could be served by the water lost to leaks and theft.
Beyond Israel, Arad has clients in the U.S., and is expanding to Brazil, China, India and Russia.