Combining water research and information technology

The combination of water research with information technology generates fruitful solutions that support the water sector in taking informed decisions.

In 2019, KWR made some substantial advances in hydroinformatics applications, and established a hydroinformatics vision with which the drinking water utilities can identify.

Opportunities for hydroinformatics

We live in an information age. And this presents the water sector with opportunities to structure and maintain their systems in an optimal manner. Hydroinformatics combines water research with information technology, so that data can be translated into knowledge to enable informed decisions.

KWR disposes of the expertise needed to apply hydroinformatics tools and methods, so that client networks, systems and operations can be further developed and their quality improved.

Hydroinformatics future vision

In 2019 KWR established a hydroinformatics vision and roadmap. The implementation process then got under way under the leadership of Chief Information Officer, Peter van Thienen. ‘The vision was well received within a feedback process with the drinking water utilities. We’ll now follow up on this by formulating what needs to be done to realise the vision and roadmap.

For KWR itself, this led for example to our setting up a Hydroinformatics Council, and now we’ll be elaborating the framework conditions to ensure that hydroinformatics acquires a solid research base and is properly embedded in our institute.’

Digital twin

One advanced initiative taken in 2019 was the digital twin demonstrator project. A digital replica of a drinking water distribution system including consumers was built, based on mobile phone data. This was used to determine the extent to which anomalies in the real network can be detected.

‘KWR is in a unique position to do such research,’ says Peter van Thienen. ‘We have the overview needed to make existing and new knowledge about this hydroinformatics application available for water practice in the Netherlands.’ The project’s underlying objective was to sketch a vista of the opportunities and applications of digital twins, and of what this means for the courses of action open to drinking water utilities.’

High data quality increasingly important

Water utilities are increasingly basing their decisions on data and information, instead of the experience and expertise of their staff. KWR supports them in this transition. In 2019 this included research in which steps were taken towards elaborating generic methods for data validation and quality assurance.

With higher data quality, and thus better information, the water sector is better equipped to the right decisions. The European Fiware4Water project, which was launched in 2019, responds to the same development. KWR, together with Waternet and 12 European partners, focuses in this project on the question of how data streams can be brought together and converted into standardised output, so that the water sector can profit from them.