Use of 4IR Technologies in Water and Sanitation in Latin America and the Caribbean
With the progressively worsening threats posed by climate change, environmental conscientiousness, and sustainability remain integral components of many Tambourine Innovation Ventures’ (TIV) projects. In particular, Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) was a call to action to provide “Clean Water and Sanitation for all” globally. Despite the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region performing above the world average in this domain (95% coverage of water services and 83% of sanitation), there is still considerable room for improvement. As a result, IADB hired TIV to co-author a paper on “Use of 4IR Technologies in Water and Sanitation In Latin America and the Caribbean” that researched the role of burgeoning digital technologies in the water and sanitation sector.
TIV’s paper introduced a novel analysis of how the recent and growing advancements in 4IR technologies could benefit Latin America. In particular, the application of the following technological advancements was investigated: Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain, Drones and Remote Sensing, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. The paper highlighted the global problems associated with a lack of clean water access, including the risk of more than 700 million people being displaced in the next decade due to water scarcity. Specific to LAC, two significant challenges were explored, i.e., closing the institutional gap by adapting policies, regulatory frameworks, programs, financial strategies, and sector capacities and closing the information gap by adapting methodologies and instruments to collect information following SDG indicators.
Specifically, TIV explored the solutions to the second challenge by implementing 4IR technologies. For instance, the study revealed how blockchain can allow for equitability in access to water quality and quantity data by households, industry consumers, water managers, and policymakers. The role of smart contracts was delineated, such as the product WATERLEDGER supported by the Ethereum-based market platform. Moreover, the blockchain services provided by Australia’s “Civic Ledger” allows for water contracts to be traded without intermediaries, potentially saving USD$62 million in this novel system compared to the antiquated technology that uses four platforms. The research done in this investigation by TIV is expected to inform IADB initiatives in the WASH space using digital technologies.