IBM, California tackle drought with IoT and blockchain

February 15, 2019 //By Rich Pell
IBM, California tackle drought with IoT and blockchain
IBM Research (Armonk, NY) has announced that it is partnering with organizations in California to pilot technologies that can accurately monitor and track groundwater use in one of the largest and most at-risk aquifers in North America.

The company is working with The Freshwater Trust , a nonprofit working to protect and restore freshwater ecosystems, and SweetSense Inc. , a provider of low-cost satellite connected sensors, in an effort to make groundwater usage sustainable in California's Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta - an area often referred to as the "nexus of California's statewide water system." The project's scientists and engineers, says IBM, will demonstrate how the blockchain and remote IoT sensors can accurately measure groundwater usage transparently, and in real time.

The remote sensors will transmit water extraction data to orbiting satellites and then to the IBM Blockchain Platform hosted in the IBM Cloud. The blockchain will record all data exchanges or transactions made in an append-only, immutable ledger. The blockchain also uses "smart contracts," whereby transactions are automatically executed when the conditions are matched.

Water consumers - including farmers, financers, and regulators - will then be able to monitor and track the use of groundwater via a web-based dashboard to demonstrate how sustainable pumping levels can be achieved through the trading of groundwater use shares in the State of California. Individual users who require groundwater amounts beyond their share cap will be able to "purchase" groundwater shares from users who do not require all of their supply at a market-regulated rate.

"The future success of these sustainability plans hinges on being able to track and report groundwater use, and likely will also require a robust way to trade groundwater shares as well," says Alex Johnson, Freshwater Fund Director with TFT. "Our strategic intent is to harness new technologies to develop a system that makes getting groundwater more sustainable, collaborative, accurate and transparent process, which is why we are using the blockchain."

Examples of the system in use, says IBM, include a farmer who may be planning to take the season off to prepare for an organic crop the following harvest. The farmer can trade or sell their

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