The digital revolution in the battle against climate change

During the past 800 years the Dutch have gradually managed to control the water. An unprecedented change in water management is inevitable considering today’s impact of climate change. In the past we built, dikes, wind mills and pumping stations; the next step in water management is a digital one.

The number of water managers using big data, water control rooms and other innovative ICT solutions in their daily operations will extend. What will water management look like in the near future and which opportunities will arise from this digital revolution? On the 8th of September 2016, 150 Dutch and international experts gathered at Het Oude Magazijn in Amersfoort for a brainstorm on these issues during the first edition of HydroNET Live: the digital revolution in water management.

During HydroNET Live, representatives from regional water authorities, municipalities, provinces, governmental organisations, consultancy agencies and knowledge institutes shared their knowledge and expertise. Climate change is a global challenge. To reduce the impact of climate change advanced ICT solutions are available worldwide. Therefore, important stakeholders from South Africa and Australia were invited to share their experiences and expertise with the HydroNET Live participants.

In the course of the day, several important conclusions were drawn under the inspiring leadership of chairman Joost Tijssen:

  1. We are already experiencing the new climate every day. What we call extreme weather today will in the near future be judged as normal. ICT solutions can support water managers in being more informed and better prepared for extreme events.
  2. The digital revolution will make water management more transparent, accountable and more efficient with a benefit for all stakeholders.
  3. Public as well as governmental participation is becoming increasingly important: governments will share more data with public parties and will join more civil initiatives like the sharing of observations. Getting the public to really understand the meaning of specific data for their personal situation (situational awareness) so that they can take appropriate actions is an important challenge.
  4. ICT strengthens trans boundary cooperation: cooperation between departments of organisations, between organisations and even between countries. Still, a lot of progress can be made regarding trans boundary cooperation.
  5. ICT makes it possible, people make it happen. Educating enough young professionals in the field of water and ICT will be of crucial importance for succeeding in our battle with and against the water.

Water management in 2030?

It is most likely that by 2030, the way in which we manage our water resources will not considerably change. Our goal will still be to get the right amount of water of the right quality in the right place at the right time. ICT tools will become more personal and more effective. We will be using smart sensors and big data. By using artificial intelligence, we will be able to exploit the capacity that water systems have to offer more efficiently.

We will benefit from the Internet of Things and will be making full use of the Cloud and SAAS. Worldwide hydrological models will help us gain insight in how we can address local water problems. Organisations from the golden triangle (government, research and business) will more frequently work together on the implementation of innovative solutions. And the operational water managers? They will be actively using water control rooms, containing personalised information enabling them to make well informed decisions for the benefit of all water and habitat related stakeholders. Technology that we are piloting today, will be fully implemented and will be actively used.

The future of ICT in water management is NOW!