Smart Water

Troy’s Aquasight is working to make municipal water supplies and wastewater plants more efficient with artificial intelligence.
water monitoring illustration
Aquasight’s software uses AI to offer real-time advice and predictions about municipal water systems. // Illustration by Justine Allenette Ross

When Aquasight founder and CEO Mahesh Lunani was 14 years old and helping his father sell water pumps to farmers in his native India, he never imagined that three decades later, and half a world away, he would be working to make fresh water supplies and wastewater treatment more efficient — yet that’s exactly what his Troy-based company is doing. Aquasight collects and analyzes data from water utilities in municipalities nationwide, applying algorithms and providing real-time operating advice and predictions of future performance and equipment life.

“I saw that these municipalities were generating enormous mountains of water system data in real time and nothing was being done with it,” Lunani recalls. “The new-age industry is all about mining that information so you can be more efficient.”

Lunani’s odyssey to entrepreneurship started at the age of 21, when he came to the U.S. and enrolled at Wayne State University in Detroit to study engineering. He landed a co-op job in statistical quality control at Ford Motor Co. that resulted in a full-time position when he graduated.

From Ford, he went to Roland Berger Strategy Consultants as a partner in its Global Automotive Leadership department. He eventually moved to IBM’s automotive practice, then served as a vice president and venture partner at Cognizant Technology Solutions in Teaneck, N.J.

While managing portfolios at Cognizant Technology Solutions in New Jersey, Lunani decided to “get out there and make a difference.” As it turned out, he ended up helping municipalities run more efficient water systems.

After four years, Aquasight has demonstrated its capabilities for about 100 communities, has tested them in 30 locations, and is running its program in 15 municipalities including Boston; two smaller Massachusetts communities; Columbus, Ohio; Grand Rapids; and several Detroit-area towns.

“In Boston there are six critical stations, one of which gets activated during a large storm event to remove water so the city doesn’t flood,” Lunani says. “They want our system to monitor this station and factor in things like the ocean tide.”

Aquasight has been doubling its sales each year of its existence, and now estimates its annual revenue to be in the neighborhood of $1.5 to $2 million. Lunani’s goal is to continue doubling the company’s numbers each year going forward.

“We now have multiple platforms. We know that what we’ve built is real and is something the country needs,” he says. “The key value proposition we have is we build our artificial intelligence platform to accommodate any type of sensors or configuration of sensors that (our customers) have.”

Aquasight’s platforms include:

  • Apollo, which uses AI and built-in real-time advisers to monitor and predict wastewater pumping performance and other factors.
  • Atlas, which provides real-time drinking water system performance insights and optimization advice.
  • Aura, an early warning, troubleshooting, and optimization application for water quality.
  • Ace, which forecasts influent flow and pollutant loading.
  • “We’re building a national platform,” Lunani says. “Each community puts its data hose in. We add new things to the platform every month. Everyone who’s a member of the national platform gets the new capabilities, whether it’s a small town or a big city.”

Lunani says he’s getting ready to branch out from water systems to other industries.

“The real-time AI technology that we’ve built can apply to multiple verticals, manufacturing, oil, and gas,” he says. “Data is data.”