The use of smart water infrastructure enables cities to better manage their water distribution networks in the face of climate disruption. Turning the existing static network of water pipes and pumps into adaptive and connected networks provides huge benefits in reduced water and energy consumption. The opportunity will benefit both operators and consumers, as the reliability of delivery will increase while water supply costs decrease.


Access to clean water is a growing challenge for urban communities in the face of climate change. Making matters worse, much water is lost before it reaches consumers’ taps due to inefficient water management systems and aging infrastructure prone to leaks. Technological innovations offer hope for this sector, as smart water systems are designed to gather meaningful and actionable data about the flow, pressure, and distribution of a city’s water, which can be used to better serve customers and prevent losses. Developing newer and smarter products and services around smart water management is our best bet in reducing massive water losses in pipes and shrinking overall water consumption.

Smart sensors form the backbone of the products and services within the smart water opportunity space. Smart sensors on pipes and other critical water management infrastructure have the ability to detect leaks, measure water-related data, including rainfall, pH, temperature, turbidity, flow, pressure, and even contamination levels. As internet of things devices, smart sensors are Wi-Fi enabled, allowing data to be sent in real time to cloud storage. Therefore, to be truly effective, smart sensors are integrated with advanced software systems capable of handling and managing these large datasets in real time. In doing so, municipalities can utilise this data to improve service, stop leaks, and boost efficiency.

The strength in this opportunity space is its ability to offer water utilities specific paths towards operating cost and carbon footprint reductions, while improving service and supply management.

Utilising cutting-edge technologies is a prime opportunity for this field, as the global market for smart water management is estimated to grow from 8.46 billion USD in 2016 to 20.10 billion USD by 2021, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.9 percent during this period. Zooming in on the opportunity, the market for smart water metering is expected to grow from an estimated 3.88 Billion USD in 2016 to 5.51 Billion USD by 2021, at a CAGR of 7.23 percent from 2016 to 2021. North America dominates the smart water metering market, but Europe is expected to show significant growth rates in the coming years.

The need to replace aging water infrastructure is expected to be the biggest market demand driver for smart water management in the coming years. In addition, climate change and urbanisation will continue to put enormous pressure on natural resources and urban systems, and smart water systems are an opportunity to tackling these climate disruptions. Hence, continued frequency of droughts and water shortages will drive the demand for smart water technology in the long term.

Key Numbers


market for water sector in 2025


people live in areas affected by water scarcity


savings yearly by using smart water tech


SDGs - Business of Power

Solutions for this Opportunity

Smart device for monitoring water use

Calliope incorporates machine learning and predictive analytics, providing insights on real-time household water use detect leaks and save money.
Location: USA See this solution

Permanent leak monitoring technology

AT&T, IBM and Mueller Water Products solution monitor water pipes for small, subsurface leaks, to fix them before they develop into larger leaks.
Location: USA See this solution

Taking control over thousands of IoT sensors

WAVIoT smart meters transmit hundreds of thousands water readings to the utility control panel via wireless network.
Location: Bulgaria See this solution

Water Usage Tracking for Residents

Tracking of water usage in individual homes and transmits the data to homeowners’ smartphones.
Location: SpainSee this solution

Clean Water through your mobile

AquaTap – An integrated solution from Grundfos and Ericsson, that improves access and payments for drinking water.
Location: Global See this solution

Enhance infrastructure visibility

IBM Intelligent Water software delivers smarter water management through insights from data to help utilities manage pressure, detect leaks, reduce water consumption.
Location: Global See this solution

Take Control of Water Loss Management

IUX Intelligent Water Management from TATA is a cloud-based architecture that provide water loss management, predictive planning and goal based monitoring.
Location: Global See this solution

Sea Level Rise Simulator

DNV GL has developed a sea level rise simulator that brings diverse stakeholders together to simulate the impact of sea level rise and test alternative policy solutions.
Location: Global See this solution



The adoption of smart water technology in cities is perceived as the top opportunity across all regions surveyed. The opportunity tends to be rated higher in the regions with a high Human Development Index score. Respondents in Europe and South East Asia & Australia rate it as number one, whereas it is the runner-up for respondents in India, MENA, and Sub Saharan Africa.

Capacity to Grow the Market

Politicians are not perceived by the leaders we surveyed to have a strong capacity to make this market grow. However, leaders are confident their regions already hold the sufficient technological and economical capacities to pursue smart water technology.

Impact on Business

Taking a regional look at how leaders view this opportunity, a number of notable differences emerge. Leaders in the MENA region perceive this opportunity to have the strongest business case of all 15 opportunities. In China, the opportunity is perceived to hold the strongest business case and have the highest impact on business. Hence, demand for smart water technology in China can be expected to grow.

Sector Impact

Leaders in the survey expect both civil society and business to advocate strongly for the smart water tech market. Hence, we can expect civil society-private sector partnerships to shape this market. The manufacturing sector sees a particularly good business case in smart water tech.

In China, leaders believe the financial sector is most likely to be active on the smart water market. However, although the finance sector regards smart water technology as a good opportunity, respondents from that sector are sceptical about the probability of their own organisation pursuing this opportunity, as demonstrated by the number 12 ranking on this criterion.


Perceived benefits from pursuing this opportunity (x), and capacity to do so (y), World and geographic regions. Scale goes from -10 to +10.



Across geographic regions. Scale goes from -10 to +10.


Across business sectors regions. Scale goes from -10 to +10.

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