Updated: Nov 12, 2021
Each year, TIME highlights inventions that make the world better, smarter, and more fun. This year, the news organization selected BlueConduit’s predictive model technology to determine service line materials and limit lead exposure as one of the best inventions of 2021 in the sustainability category.
BlueConduit’s proven data-driven technology helps cities and utilities find and address lead service lines in a cost-effective and efficient process. This method helps cities reduce the number of days its citizens may live with the risk of lead exposure.
“We created BlueConduit with the mission of supporting large-scale removal of lead and other dangerous pipe materials from cities. We believe all communities should be able to address hazardous infrastructure in an affordable, time-efficient manner,” said Eric Schwartz, co-founder of BlueConduit. “It’s truly an honor to be recognized by TIME and considered a top invention.”
BlueConduit was formed in 2019 by the University of Michigan researchers who worked with Flint, Michigan’s lead service line replacement program. Their work in Flint accurately predicted that the city’s service line inventory was composed of about 40% lead service lines, when historical records suggested only 10 to 20% of the city’s pipes were lead.
“There are 6 to 10 million homes across the U.S. with lead pipes, but finding where those pipes are can cost taxpayers millions of dollars and it can take years. BlueConduit’s machine-learning technology provides cities with a list of the areas with the highest probability of having lead pipes, allowing them to get the lead out faster and save money by avoiding unnecessary digs,” said Ian Robinson, president and COO of BlueConduit. “We’ve helped the cities of Flint, Toledo, Trenton, and Detroit, and dozens of others to save tens of millions of dollars and provide safe drinking water to its citizens.”
To assemble its 2021 list, TIME solicited nominations from its editors and correspondents around the world, as well as through an online application process. The news organization then evaluated each contender on a number of key factors, including originality, creativity, efficacy, ambition, and impact.
BlueConduit is a water analytics company that has developed cutting-edge, predictive machine-learning methods to locate lead service lines, empowering local officials with the information to efficiently remove those pipes. The company’s model enables utilities to focus their resources on digging where the lead is and accelerating the removal of this significant health concern and save millions of dollars in avoided digs. Since 2016, BlueConduit has worked with more than 50 municipalities and inventoried nearly 1 million service lines, which serve more than 2 million people. Learn more at BlueConduit.com.