Digital tools and solutions for a future proof water sector

By combining information technology with water research, hydroinformatics opens the door to an integrated approach to urban water management. Fragmented knowledge and data are combined and converted into models and tools that prepare the water sector for an uncertain future.

KWR is committed to a water-inclusive and sustainable society. Our experts in hydroinformatics support the water sector with digital technologies and solutions to achieve that goal. To be sustainable and future-proof, we help the water sector by providing horizon scanning, by identifying and developing ground-breaking digital science and technology and supporting their supporting implementation in smart water solutions.

Dealing with uncertainties

Digital tools and solutions help to cope with the issues of our time such as population growth, urbanisation and climate change. Using hydroinformatics, uncertainties and consequences for the water sector relating to these major challenges can be better understood. That is urgently needed because the demand for an adequate supply of good-quality water will only increase in the near future. And water availability is not something we can simply take for granted in a context of climate change and the resulting long dry periods.

At KWR, we use hydroinformatics to work with stakeholders and produce solutions that lead to improvements in the design, management and performance of water systems. The integration of electronic hardware, software and human expertise results in the optimal water management of today and in the future.

Using data as a raw material, we use models to work towards the best decisions.

Three working areas

KWR is rapidly developing its research in hydroinformatics. For example, we have expertise relating to optimisation, artificial intelligence (AI), uncertainty studies, real-time control and data visualisation.

KWR’s working areas in the field of hydroinformatics focus on research, data management and software development; three building blocks that are closely interrelated. Using data as a raw material, we use models to work towards the best decisions.

The three building blocks of hydroinformatics at KWR: research, data management and software development.


All KWR research draws on a multidisciplinary and solution-oriented approach. That is how we bridge science to practice. In hydroinformatics, we have in recent years mastered the fields of data validation, digital twins (of water distribution networks), numerical optimisation techniques (the design of pipe and sensor networks), probabilistic hydraulic simulation and visualisation. Examples of projects include Sim4Nexus, Fiware4Water and AIR.

KWR’s hydroinformatics research has a strong ICT component that produces generic techniques for several domains. Examples include applications of machine learning for predicting future water demand, the availability of freshwater sources or the assessment of the condition of pipes.

An important focus at KWR is to explore and identify new developments and in the field of hydroinformatics. An example is to explore the added value and possible applications and opportunities of deep learning for the water sector, including the analysis of customer complaints and spectroscopy. We also develop serious games with behavioural sciences and data as important underlying elements.

Above all, the water sector needs to make progress on thinking in terms of uncertainty. Computers, with their capacity to work with incredible amounts of data, are able to handle models that explicitly consider uncertainty. If the water sector starts using hydroinformatics widely, we can get to grips with reality better.

Data management

We live in an information age, and the water sector is also faced with an ever-larger flow of data. Decisions have to be made about all the things that can be measured. What is meaningful? How should data storage and management be organized? And how do you extract the right information from that enormous pile of data? KWR’s hydroinformatics experts address these questions every day.

KWR is committed to professionalising data management. To achieve that goal, we are developing and maintaining robust data management systems for our own researchers, clients and other stakeholders. We keep a close eye on relevant developments in data management for the water sector in order to put them into practice. And we aim to organise data so that they are suitable for general use. We do this by applying the ‘FAIR’ principles: Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable.

Software development

In recent years, KWR has developed a number of high-level digital tools and applications, and this trend will continue. In this way, we build a bridge between information technology, research and day-to-day water practice. And we are continuing to shape our niche in the world of water software. On the basis of ongoing professionalisation, we are using cutting-edge science and digital technology to implement smart water solutions.

The picture that is becoming increasingly clear in the water sector is that the right software provides more insight and makes better decisions possible. Digital tools are not only used to drive scientific progress. They are also, and increasingly, components of projects in which KWR, working with drinking water companies, water authorities, the government and partners from the commercial world such as consultancy firms and industry, solves relevant issues for the water sector. Examples include Network Flow Performance, REWAB, HydroMonitor and CALLISTO. KWR has also developed a software platform for the optimisation of drinking water distribution systems: Gondwana.