University news – Exeter research team help shape digitalisation of European water networks

Two of the University of Exeter’s foremost experts on hydroinformatics have played significant roles in pivotal new European policy documents, calling for the digitalisation of the water industry. 

Professor Albert Chen has provided expert contribution to the new European Commission’s policy whitepaper, called the need for digital water in a green Europe. Dr Lydia Vamvakeridou-Lyroudia has authored the vision and compiled showcases for future digital water management. 

Professor Chen and Dr Vamvakeridou-Lyroudia, from Exeter’s Centre for Water Systems has collaborated with the ICT4Water Cluster and the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) to publish the documents. 

The white paper reviews the state-of-the-art research taking place across the European Union, in a bid to identify salient and realistic opportunities to use digital networks to boost the operation and management of vital water resources. 

It is designed to support a series of long-term European environmental and climate strategies including greater engagement with water consumers, flood and pollution incident mitigation, reducing environmental damage, and introducing new technologies in monitoring water quality and quantity. 

The white paper will contribute directly to the revision of the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive (UWWTD), the implementation of the revised EU Drinking Water Directive (DWD) and Water Framework Directive (WFD).  

It also promotes the central role of the water sector to a green and digital economy, as set out in the European Green Deal, and recommends actions that improve the management of the water sector as a circular economy. 

Professor Chen said: “We envisage the recommendations will accelerate the implementation of digitalisation of the water sectors, leading to more effective and efficient management in water resource for sustainable development.” 

Dr Vamvakeridou-Lyroudia, as the coordinator of the ICT4Water Cluster, has highlighted the opportunities in strengthening the capacity of water sector to better manage water resources in the prominent report ICT4Water Cluster – vision and showcases for the twin digital and green transitions to achieve the European Green Deal, again in collaboration with the EASME .  

The ICT4Water Cluster consists of seven Action Groups addressing the challenges in digital water innovation, including: Interoperability and Standardization, Data Sharing, Smart Water, Cyber-security, Actor Awareness, Policy, and Business Models. 

Within the report, the research outcomes from the Centre for Water Systems are showcased to demonstrate how digital water could lead to, including the Serious Gaming from the EU H2020 SIM4NEXUS and EPSRC the Nexus Game projects, the climate change hazard analysis and impact assessment from EU FP7 CORFU, PEARL, H2020 EU-CIRCLE, RESCCUE, and EPSRC CADDIES projects.    

 The work on EU H2020 aqua3S, Fiware4Water and LOTUS projects also contribute to the vision of developing digital solutions for enhancing water network monitoring, operation and management. 

The research in ULTIMATE and NextGen projects will support creating digital applications to promote circular economy around resource use in the water sector, and the outcomes in RECONECT project have shown  how digital and nature-based solutions can reduce hydro-meteorological risk. 

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