Utilis Founder Receives Water and Wastes Digest's Young Pro Award

Jul 13, 2021

Water and Wastes Digest recently honored Lauren Guy, founder and Chief Technology Officer of Utilis with the 2021 Young Pro Award. Guy built Utilis to change how the world views water as a natural resource.

Guy shared what drives his work in a written interview and by video. “My biggest dream is that water will be considered priceless, as are petroleum products and rare earth metals.” He believes it is important for the world to learn that water is not an infinite, cheap resource. Rather, water is a resource that requires care, thoughtfulness and planning to properly manage for the long term.

After creating the technology, Guy’s job became countering skepticism. He understood that the water utilities are a traditional market, and that industry tends to resist change. Since it was challenging to introduce innovation to a market, Guy started at home. The Utilis team built a new application and found their first leak. “Our first project was with a local utility in Israel that was highly skeptical regarding our technology. On our first day in the field, on the very first location we went to, we found an enormous leak.”

In the five years since, their wins are stacking up. Utilis applied for seven patents and succeeded in making synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) based leak detection a technology accepted in utilities across the globe. Because their wins protect the earth’s water supply, we all benefit. To date, Utilis has located more than 40,000 water leaks.

The Utilis solution, using SAR to find water underground, required thinking differently than the industry had in the past. Guy believes the mindset of people in his generation drove this positive change. They seek out solutions unlike any generation before. Guy said, “This generation is less reliant on hunches, feelings, and biased information, and more guided by actual data to make their decisions. The industry is less focused on one key decision maker at a utility, and now to a more matrixed organization where everyone brings their own unique knowledge. Decisions are made as a team effort, often driven by data.”

While one would expect that Guy works long hours, he also prioritizes family time and service to his community. He is a chess player and volunteers his time teaching chess in his hometown in Beer-Sheva, Israel, where they have more chess grandmasters per capita than any other city in the world. He also spends time playing piano, teaching music, or at the baseball field. From the interviews, we learn that Guy’s resilience and concern for global health may have come from overcoming a brain tumor at age 18 and by observing his mother overcome obstacles to become a public health teacher.

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