Five cities, 18 solutions to kickstart digital water city initiative

A new collaboration is bringing together digital technologies to improve water management across five major European cities.

Called Digital Water City (DWC), the EU-project will focus on Berlin, Milan, Copenhagen, Paris and Sofia as the first pilot cities to help deliver “integrated management of water systems”.

A total of 18 advanced digital solutions will be demonstrated, ranging from groundwater management, sewer maintenance and operation, wastewater treatment and reuse to urban bathing and water management.

Some of the digital technologies being demonstrated will include augmented reality, artificial intelligence (AI), predictive analytics, open source software, real-time sensors and cloud computing.

Running for 3.5 years, the Horizon 2020 project has attracted just under €5 million in EU grants and is being designed to foster links between the digital and physical worlds.

Improving the water cycle
Across the five cities, the project will aim to improve bathing water quality, foster public involvement, optimise investment and operational costs and improve infrastructure performance.

Companies involved in the initiative and advisory board include Biofos, IBM, Siemens, Aqualia, Kando, Kompetenzzentrum Wasser Berlin (KWB), Franhoufer Institute and utility, Berliner Wasserbetriebe (BWB), DHI, EurEau and others.

In Berlin, one collaboration involves implementing multi-parameter online sensing units into the city’s stormwater network.

German water utility BWB and research institute KWB will work with Israeli company Kando to install its solution called Clear Upstream to “locate illicit and contaminated discharges to the storm water network of the city”.

In Paris, the collaboration aims to benefit the Olympic Games of 2024. Innovative sensors for bacterial measurements will be used in the river Seine, with machine learning forecasting contamination risk at official bathing spots.

Meanwhile in Copenhagen, the aim is to reduce environmental impacts and flooding through forecasting, real-time control of sewer network and wastewater treatment plant.

In Sofia, the main objective is to improve the management of the sewer network and reduce operational costs using a smart sewer cleaning technology. Finally, in Milan, the focus is wastewater reuse and efficient distribution for agricultural irrigation.

Why a Digital Water City?
It’s estimated that almost three quarters of EU-28 inhabitants live in urban areas.

Furthermore, surface water and groundwater continue to be over-exploited, with less than 40 per cent of Europe’s water bodies in “good ecological and chemical status”

Eva Martinez Diaz, smart services manager at the innovation and technology department of Aqualia, said a digital water city includes “improving every part of the water cycle through the use of technology, data and intelligence”.

In a recent interview with Aquatech Global Events ahead of the soon to be launched Innovation Forum focusing on digitalisation, she said, “The ambition is to ensure water quality and reduce freshwater and energy use, in line with the concept of a resilient circular economy and involving all relevant stakeholders, increasing awareness on the true value of water.”