Internet of Water to track water supply and demand

Summary

A system of 2,500 sensors will track water quality and better predict supply and demand in the region

Waterworld

The latest digital technologies are being deployed in Flanders to help manage water in the region. The aim is to build an “internet of water”, an intelligent monitoring system that can measure water quality and supply in real time.

“With the Internet Of Water, we will give our water managers an innovative instrument that will enable them to better protect Flanders against flooding, water scarcity and pollution,” said innovation minister Philippe Muyters, announcing a budget of €9 million for the project.

The Internet of Water will consist of 2,500 sensors installed across Flanders. These will measure the quality and quantity of water in the ground and on the surface, and also track water flowing into the environment from sources such as sewage treatment works.

The tiny devices will operate autonomously, feeding data back to a central computer over wireless networks. They will have to be extremely energy-efficient, so that they can run for long periods without requiring new batteries.

Learning software

“The sensors continuously transfer real-time data to self-learning software, which in turn can make realistic predictions,” Muyters explained. “That, in turn, enables us to take the correct measures in time.”

The system should also allow longer term predictions than is currently possible, and so improve co-ordination with farmers, companies and others involved in the use and management of water.

The project brings together the Flanders Environment Agency (VMM), companies Watergroep and Aquafin and research institutes Vito, imec and Vlakwa. “This unique collaboration of actors from the Flemish water sector and knowledge institutions is an important step in innovative water policy in Flanders,” said environment minister Koen Van den Heuvel.