Managing global water resources with a novel digital platform

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland is coordinating a new project for the development of a digital platform for managing global water resources.

Water utilities and water-intensive industries need more efficient solutions for the management of global water resources. Clean water is an absolute necessity for the existence of life, but currently, water provision can be expensive, and a large share of water is lost in network leaks. For example, in Finland, around 18% of all drinking water leaks out into the environment. Meanwhile, in countries with old infrastructure, this sum can be as high as 50%.

Therefore, the digitalisation of distribution networks will make it a simpler task to forecast and find leaks and maintain the network. A digitally monitored and operated network will also enable real-time data on water quality.

Favourable technologies for digital management of global water resources already exists, but their introduction is slowed down by challenges such as integration of technologies and concerns about cyber security. The new Smart Water Management (SWIM) project addresses these challenges by means such as co-creation and standardisation.

The researchers will present their solution at the Finnish Water Forum webinar at the Dubai 2021 World Expo on 21 June.

Topi Helle, CEO of the Finnish Water Forum, explained: “There is a global shortage of clean water and climate change is expected to exacerbate the situation. Reducing water leaks in the distribution network means that less clean water needs to be produced, which saves water resources, energy, and chemicals.”

Mona Arnold, Principal Scientist at VTT, commented: “In the development of the digital platform, the focus is on smart water management, where Finland is one of the world’s leading countries. The digital platform will use high-quality data collected from the water network using sensors. Another aim is to promote the use of artificial intelligence in water management.”

The SWIM project, which will develop a digital platform for more efficient water management, will base its solution on the open development platform of project partner Nokia, and the smart solutions provided by Finnish IT companies. VTT will develop the capabilities necessary for the project. The solutions will be examined and exhibited in the research partner Savonia’s test water network in Kuopio.

“Testing systems in real-world environments provides an immediate response to the functionality of the methods to support research and product development,” added Patryk Wójtowicz, Research Manager at Savonia.

“The world needs flexible and resilient water systems with operations that can anticipate, monitor and adapt to changing circumstances. New LPWA NB-IoT communications and open standards-based digital platforms are rapidly transforming water utilities by empowering their digital transformation,” concluded Stephen Major, Global Energy Practice CTO at Nokia.

“We are delighted to be part of this project to help accelerate water industry innovation and its use of IIoT solutions to enable holistic water management for a faster transition to smarter, more adaptive networks.”

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