Transforming Water in India

“The great thing with smart infrastructure is that instead of patching problems, you apply holistic, innovative solutions. This supports India’s bold ambitions ...”

Rajul Mehrotra leads Xylem’s Smart City and Smart infrastructure business in India. His goal is as bold as the nation’s: to solve water-related issues using advanced products and technologies and enabling a 24/7 water supply, for everyone.

Smart Cities are the future – but to build that future, you have to innovate every day. I have been working on urban water for almost 19 years now, and on Smart Cities since 2008.

I have worked on various projects with and for governments across India, China, the Middle East and Europe, helping leading technology providers harness advanced technologies and integrate water as a key element into smart urban design. Together, we’ve found ways to increase efficiency and reduce both costs and pollution.

Three years ago, I was very proud to join Xylem, as the problems that the company solved and the values it stood for were very close to my heart. Today, I lead the Smart Cities and Infrastructure portfolio where we strive to provide end-to-end answers for core foundational infrastructure, instrumentation and integrated smart solutions. We focus on segments like Municipal and Smart Cities, Smart Real Estate and Smart Townships, Smart Irrigation Infrastructure, Smart Industrial Infrastructure, Smart Mobility Infrastructure (Airports, Ports, Railway Stations, Inland water ways and Sea ways), Smart Mining and Smart Oil & Gas. Here, we are helping the Smart Cities and Smart Infrastructure vision of India, by leveraging our company’s broad portfolio of technologies and solutions – the most powerful in the industry.

The great thing with smart infrastructure is that instead of patching problems, you apply holistic innovative solutions. This supports India’s own bold ambitions and stated mission – for example, achieving universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all, by 2030.

The less good news is that the challenges are substantial. Like many countries in emerging and also developed markets, many of India’s cities struggle to provide enough water to a growing population. Now, the mass influx of people from rural areas into the cities is putting even more pressure on outdated infrastructure, intensifying the challenge.

So the government isn’t just patching the problems – that wouldn’t work for the long term. Instead, there’s a major smart infrastructure plan in place, aiming to improve and innovate the entire infrastructure within urban areas. This includes wastewater and drinking water infrastructure, solid waste management, public transportation etc. Success in these initiatives will strengthen cities, attracting businesses and tourists, for instance, to create a more sustainable economic future.

A few years ago I introduced the idea of the ‘Xylem Smart Cities and Smart Infrastructure’ and we now have several Indian smart cities working with us on different aspects of water management like facilitating a 24/7 water supply to every citizen, incorporating smart metering and other modern technologies.

Our monitoring and control systems enable smart, connected networks that boost energy efficiency and reduce downtime and maintenance. We are also using artificial intelligence and decision intelligence to detect and manage leakages – plus data analytics and remote oversight – to help government authorities deliver a reliable and consistent water supply.

Our end-to-end systems are also helping turn ambitious smart infrastructure visions into realities. For example, in the state of Madhya Pradesh, our Smart Irrigation Team is delivering an integrated digital solution that will help provide water reliably, efficiently and intelligently to 175,000 farmers to sustain their communities.

We want to help our clients incorporate innovative Xylem solutions into every smart city initiative -- to help meet India’s long-term water, wastewater and energy needs.

Importantly, these Xylem technologies and solutions are built around sustainability and social goals. Our vision is to devote our technology, time and talent to advance the smarter use of water – not just for commercial reasons, but to create a future where global water issues simply don’t exist anymore.

We’re also addressing the needs of rural areas, which have their own set of supply and irrigation challenges to overcome. Even producing a clean supply for a few hours can be life changing. Reaching 24/7 provision would be a fantastic achievement – and we’re going to get there. We want everyone to have the water they need where they live and help end the situation where people have to travel to find water.

Having grown up in India, I’ve seen how precious water can be – and how hard it is living without it, or with access only to limited or contaminated sources. I consider it a calling and a privilege to work in a field where I can be part of the solution to a solvable problem.

We have the technology, innovation and the vision: now we’re creating smart solutions and transforming lives.

That’s truly exciting!

by Rajul Mehrotra