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Yesterday IBM, which is trying to get more deeply involved in the high-tech management of commercial water systems, went shopping for Dutch research and commercial partners, offering a reported $10 million to codevelop technologies. On IBM’s shopping list: intelligent irrigation, peak water-demand management tools, and smart sensor networks that improve water quality. Ultimately, IBM hopes to forge what it calls a “collaborative information framework” for water management. IBM aired the offer at a meeting in Delft that was organized by the Netherlands Water Partnership.

More than half of the Netherlands lies below sea level, and the Dutch have an 800-year history of keeping the water back while also keeping the drinking water clean. “The interesting thing is that since Katrina, there have been a lot of exchanges of knowledge between U.S. and Dutch government organizations,” says Piet Dircke, director of water programs at Arcadis, an environmental-engineering firm based in Arnhem, Netherlands. “IBM [is] the first U.S. firm that seems to be interested in the Dutch technological capabilities from the commercial point of view.” Arcadis has a $150 million contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide engineering services for design and construction management for hurricane protection in New Orleans.

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