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Feature Interview: Utilis – Technology to Detect Water Leaks

We spoke with Ionatan Ascher, LATAM Sales Manager at Utilis about their technology to detect water leaks. Water issues in Latin America are very important, particularly in Chile, given the reduced rain fall which has reduced fresh water for agriculture and personal use over the past 10 years. Companies such as Utilis are providing technologies that are helping water utilities to save water and increase efficiencies of their distribution systems.

Ax Legal: We would like to know more about you, on a professional level, what is your role today?

Ionatan: I am the leader in charge of the development, planning, and negotiation of commercial activities for Utilis in Latin America, Portugal, and Spain. Responsible for the sales management of technological solutions in the water industry for all types of businesses. I have a software engineering degree and more than 15 years developing services and solutions for business in different fields. My passion is to understand and apply IT solutions to help companies in their operations. With Utilis I also get to make a huge positive impact in the world saving water energy and money.

Ax Legal: What technologies and processes do you use to find water leaks?

Ionatan: We mainly deliver solutions based on synthetic aperture radar data (SAR) taken from a satellite. This data is processed by our patented algorithm into likely leak locations that utilities can use to pinpoint their underground leaks in order to reduce water loss.

Ax Legal: What innovative technology methods do you use today versus other companies?

Ionatan: In general, to detect leaks, utilities use acoustic devices to search the entire water distribution network, which is a job that takes a long time and is not very efficient. Other companies work with sensors that are installed in different parts of the distribution networks to identify pressure changes, but this is an estimate, therefore not exact.

Utilis uses a satellite image that covers approximately 3000 square kilometers, and it is analyzed with our technology to detect places where there is water in the soil below the surface. We then narrow down the areas the utility must search to 5-10% of the system with likely leaks. This allows companies to reduce the number of points that must be analyzed. This saves companies time, costs, and allows for more preventive work to be done.

Ax Legal: Is there any technology that catches your attention?

Ionatan: We have a new product called MasterPlan, which uses multiple SAR images taken months apart. It allows you to detect the complete status of the entire network; where you can estimate the budget immediately for any corrective maintenance that need attention.

Ax Legal: How do you currently find new clients in Latin America?

Ionatan: I am Sales Manager for Latin America, Portugal, and Spain, we have partners in each country and we are working with them to generate business opportunities. We also work with the World Bank, and also the Chamber of Commerce in Israel supports us in each country to generate commercial links.

Ax Legal: Is there a lesson that you have learned from working with clients in Latin America, in terms of how to interact with them, sell to them, that is different in other parts of the world?

Ionatan: I think it is necessary to raise awareness about the importance of preventing significant loss of water. There is a high rate of water scarcity in the world, and we must take care of this natural resource. The pace of using these technologies could be better. Large companies often have long processes for implementing new technologies. It would be useful if governments had programs to promote these new technologies.

When companies understand the efficiency of this technology, and all the benefits that you could have by making use of it, it is not difficult to see the advantages. Utilities using our service find they have a very attractive return on investment.

Based on my experience with Latin America, I recommend fully researching companies of interest, and speaking directly to the decision maker. If you have the above and you have innovative solutions, knowing fully what you are selling, you will have no problem to expand your business into Latin America.

Ax Legal is a legal and business advisory firm that works with foreign companies in Latin America. Our team of legal and commercial advisors have a distinguished track record of helping foreign technology and services companies to grow and operate in Latin America. Over the years, we have worked with starts up, mid-size businesses, and publicly listed companies. The one common factor that connects are clients is that they are leaders in their field, providing innovative technologies and services to the industrial sectors.

To better understand how we can support you in the Region, please contact Cody Mcfarlane at