We profile what no-one can see: Yitzhak Meidan, managing director of Meidan Engineering and Computers.It looks like a video game, but its purpose is anything but child?s play. The Israeli company Meidan Engineering and Computers has invented a high-tech solution for a low-tech industry problem and is presenting it to waterworks utility companies in America. The company was most recently showcased in Atlanta.

Meidan has developed a software solution that can give advice to utility companies and fire departments in the event of accidental water contamination or a terrorist threat, and let those in charge know how to reduce impact and danger. The company’s solution can also make residential and commercial water distribution activities more economical.

This is particularly attractive in today’s market where water use is closely tied to energy consumption: most of the cost of your water bill is the enormous amount of electricity it took getting the water to your tap.

Working with Israeli water metering company Arad Technologies, which has 1.2 million water meters installed across America, Meidan takes real-time readings from water carriers and valves.

At the moment, nobody really knows much about water velocity, precise volume and direction of flow, explains Yitzhak Meidan, managing director of the company.

Wasted water is wasted energy

“We can give a consumption profile,” he tells ISRAEL21c at the annual Cleantech Exhibition at Israel’s Airport City last month. “Too many pumps are wasting energy, water is energy and the biggest cost involved in water is the pump,” says Meidan.

Master Meter, an American company, recently presented Meidan’s technology in Atlanta showing how the city of Delta in Utah could use the readout, by closing pumps and valves, in the event of emergency.

The software solution simulates on a computer screen what is happening below ground in a city’s water pipes at any given time. A complicated maze of flow directions, a city relies on a complex number of pumps and water reserves to ensure a steady, even flow of water.

Whether it’s in the middle of the night when you flush the toilet, or a city full of showering bodies in the morning, Meidan believes its solution gives city water engineers an unbeatable way of “profiling” what nobody can see.

Complicated algorithms built into the software can predict pipe wear and tear, alerting the city when a pipe or series of pipes should be changed, before the crisis occurs. It can even give an alert when there is a leak somewhere in the system.

Perfect for crises management

But the company stresses that the solution is ideal for “crises management” and can suggest what pipes and valves should be closed in the event of emergency.

While it may seem obvious to shut a pipe off close to the point of contact to the water source, Meidan explains that this is not the case: turning a pipe off in one region causes a pressure buildup in another — a situation that can only make a minor disaster more widespread. It’s not so easy figuring where the water will flow with brains alone, says Meidan.

Meidan’s company, based in Haifa, is a five person outfit. The 20-year-old company will be marketed in the US under Master Meter, and Meidan hopes to attract large industry players like IBM or Oracle to consider using it in their production facilities. “This is the first and only solution of its kind,” he says.