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Some impressions from the Hydroinformatics International Conference 2018

This week, 400 researchers from around the world in the field of hydroinformatics are meeting in Palermo for the Hydroinformatics International Conference. Three keynotes provide a relevant view on the future of hydroinformatics.

Cross-fertilization in hydroinformatics

This week, 400 researchers from around the world in the field of hydroinformatics are meeting in Palermo for the Hydroinformatics International Conference. This is a very interesting meeting, since it provides a good balance between scientific depth and range of subfields and topics. In other words, participants get to learn the scientific and technical details of the latest developments in our own subfields of interest (in my case drinking water distribution, data mining, optmization), but also get a taste of things that people in other subfields are doing (e.g. hydrology, climate change). This is inspirational for my own work and really enables cross-fertilization.

Technology for humans

The program for the first two days has presented the attendants with three very interesting keynote lectures by Dragan Savic’ (our new ceo since 3 days), Vladan Babovic, and Rafael le Bras. Dragan talked about the (mainly his personal) history of hydroinformatics. It is a field which receives a lot of attention right now, but it has been under development over more than 25 years. Key issues for the coming period are the social aspect of hydroinformatics, serious gaming, and the ubiquity of sensors. I was proud to see our KWR end slide at the end of his presentation. The second keynote provided a wider perspective towards the future of hydroinformatics. Key is that hydroinformatics techniques are not tools to replace humans but remain tools for humans to use: “no machine is better than a man with a machine”. This is a message that we try to bring across in our own work in the optimization of drinking water networks as well. The most important lesson from the third keynote is that a combination of data mining techniques with physical models is needed in hydrology. I am really looking forward to consider such a combination for drinking water distribution networks.