Steady streams: Reliable wireless leads to reliable water.

Residents of Saipan

Percentage of water lost

Population receiving water a few hours a day

Water, water everywhere...

Saipan is a U.S. territory in the Northern Mariana Islands with 40,000 residents and —until recently—a challenging water situation. The island was losing 70% of its potable water due to leaky pipes and theft. Drought and poor quality added to the problem, raising costs past what many people could afford. With nearly 15% of the population only receiving water a few hours a day and a potential public health crisis on its hands, Saipan needed a solution.

“So much water being lost created a significant increase in cost to the point that people could no longer afford water.”

— Ken Thompson, Deputy Director, Intelligent Water Solutions, CH2M Hill

Tapping in to a better system.

Factors like drought can't be controlled. But delivery can. To improve the system, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands enlisted the help of CH2M Hill. The engineering company collaborated with Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. to develop machine-to-machine (M2M) technology that keeps track of the water supply’s movement throughout the system—and more importantly, where it’s being lost.

Tracking every drop.

Fixed infrastructure solutions are time-consuming to build and expensive to maintain. By opting for a cellular network, Saipan had 16 monitoring stations up and running within two weeks at a much lower capital and operations cost. The M2M solution includes cellular-based meters, tank level monitors, and pressure sensors, all using the Qualcomm® Gobi™ modem to connect to fast, reliable wireless networks. An encrypted dashboard is shared with partners around the world every two minutes,  and the collected near real-time data makes it possible to quickly identify and address loss points. As a result, an invaluable resource is conserved.


Qualcomm Gobi is a product of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. 

How It Works

Nov 7, 2014


Clean, dependable water is no longer a pipe dream.

The new system will enable Saipan to conserve water, saving $750K for each 10% reduction. The goal is to reduce loss associated with theft and leaking pipes by two-thirds over the next five years, which will save the community millions of dollars in energy costs, provide higher quality of water, and ensure that everyone receives water 24 hours a day.

Next step: Taking the solution global.

Water management isn’t an issue restricted to isolated areas like Saipan. Water utilities across the U.S. and its territories have an average of 30% loss, with some as high as 70%, an amount that can make a critical difference in an emergency situation. Additionally, changes in cost and availability affect us all by impacting businesses that require reliable water supply, like agriculture and manufacturing. But with solutions like Saipan’s, sufficient water is as simple as turning on a faucet.

Explore how Qualcomm invention transforms the world in which we live.