(CNN Business)Israeli engineer Alon Geva came home one day to find his house flooded by a burst water pipe. Once he’d finished mopping up, he immediately went to work on a solution to prevent it from happening again.
Geva created an artificial intelligence-powered water meter called WINT. The unit integrates into existing pipe systems, where it can learn the normal water flow, detect when things go wrong, and shut off malfunctioning parts before any damage is done, according to Yaron Dycian, chief product and strategy officer at WINT Water Intelligence, a startup based in Tel Aviv.
WINT communicates with the cloud over a cellular network to deliver real-time analytics and alerts through its app.
Launched in 2012, the company’s technology was originally designed for homes but has since started targeting companies that are looking not only to prevent damage but also to waste less water.
Nine years and many algorithms later, WINT is gaining recognition for its water saving tech. In 2019, the company expanded into the United States and Europe — where the technology has already been adopted by companies such as Microsoft, HP and Mastercard.
The huge cost of water damage
According to the Association of British Insurers, water damage is one of the most common household property claims in the United Kingdom. On average, a burst pipe claim can cost nearly £9,000 ($13,000).
Other water-saving tech on the market include home monitors Flo by Moen and Belkin’s Phyn Plus system. But Dycian says what makes WINT stand out is its ability to deal with large-scale office buildings, factories and construction sites.
“It’s quite amazing the amount of damage that water can cause in a building,” he tells CNN Business. “A pipe breaks on the 20th floor, water trickles down and anything in its wake is really destroyed. We have customers who have lost tens of millions of dollars in a single event like this.”
This problem was all too familiar for UK-based construction company Mace, which built London icons like The Shard and the London Eye.
“We’ve had a number of issues around leaking pipes in the final throes of construction that caused millions of pounds’ worth of damage,” says Paul Connolly, technical director for Mace.
Beyond the financial cost, Connolly says damage to reputation and rising insurance premiums forced the company to look for solutions. Today, WINT is incorporated into each new Mace construction site, which Connolly says has helped their bottom line and their sustainability goals.
WINT typically saves users 20 to 25% in water consumption, according to Dycian.
With water supplies under pressure globally, it’s more important than ever to cut down on consumption and wastage. Even a small or slow leak can waste a lot of water; a 3-millimeter crack in a pipe can waste about 946 liters (250 gallons) of water per day, according to American Water Resources.
Dycian says 25% of water that enters any building is wasted through small things like a running toilet or a dripping faucet. In US households alone, those average leaks account for nearly 1 trillion gallons wasted each year.
“Here’s water scarcity (and) here’s a huge business problem that’s causing massive damages — and a solution that manages to solve both,” he says. “That’s exciting to me.”