Thursday, June 20, 2024

Microsoft and water scarcity in Mexico: A perspective from our CEO

Water is an issue that concerns just about everyone these days – and with good reason.  Hardly a week goes by that we don’t hear about the impact of too much or too little water somewhere on the planet.

Here in Mexico, many of us feel an even closer connection to the water scarcity issue especially given the drought that much of the country is facing this year.

Since a lot of Mexico’s territory regularly struggles with water scarcity, and the population is growing and using more water, and significant nearshoring investment is bringing more manufacturing, does this mean we are moving towards a water crisis? Not necessarily.

As I have written about previously, industry increasingly has the tools and technology available to them to drastically reduce their facilities’ water footprint. Long gone are the days of blatant water waste and violations, and most businesses I have seen are actually proactively investing in ways to help their facilities use significantly less water.

Just recently, I heard of a new water technology that gives me even more hope. A former colleague and friend of mine from London called me a few days ago to excitedly share an inspiring water-saving case study her company just completed in Mexico.

Here’s the story.

Querétaro is a fast-growing city and state in a very dry part of Mexico. Due to Querétaro’s strategic central location, lack of earthquakes and hurricanes, and well-educated population, many companies are choosing to locate new data centers in the city.

The problem is data centers use lots of water to cool down their equipment. What sounds like a worsening water problem might actually be solved by Microsoft, one of the companies who is building a massive data center in Querétaro.

Microsoft has committed to becoming water-positive by the year 2030, and taken an extremely creative and proactive approach to not just reducing its water impact in the city, but rather have a positive impact on water usage.

Here’s how. One of the largest losses of water is actually not in the use of it at the final facility, but rather from water leaks occurring in pipes as the water moves from the source to the facility. It is estimated that between 30-40% of all water in Mexico is lost or wasted from leaks in water pipes!

Microsoft is using a technology from my friend’s company, FIDO AI to proactively invest in finding and fixing the water leaks in over 350 km of pipes throughout the city of Querétaro. The new technology from FIDO AI actually “listens” to the water pipes and, using AI tools, identifies and ranks the size of the leaks throughout the network. This precision tool allows for extremely accurate detection and ultimately fixing of the water leaks.

As Microsoft pays for the FIDO AI technology to be implemented throughout Querétaro, Microsoft expects to actually have a net positive impact in its water usage in the city – how cool is that?!

This is a great example of how  – with the right incentives and motivation from governments and consumers – industry can actually be a very important part of the solution to our planet’s water issues.

It’s important we don’t look at water problems from a “fixed pie perspective” or we will fail to incentivize and encourage investments like those from Microsoft that actually will help “expand the pie” by helping recover water currently being lost.

What an exciting innovation by FIDO AI and proactive strategic deployment by Microsoft.  Kudos to both companies and let’s hope they inspire many others!

Travis Bembenek is the CEO of Mexico News Daily and has been living, working or playing in Mexico for over 27 years.

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