The key problem addressed in WATERNOMICS is the lack of water information, management and decision support tools that present meaningful and personalized information about usage, price, and availability of water in an intuitive and interactive way to end users. This introduces limitations in the efforts to manage water as a resource which including the following:
End users do not have access to water information (i.e. availability, consumption, pricing) at the moments that decisions about water consumption are being taken to make behavioural change.
Due to billing, pricing, awareness or metering aspects, end users may not have an incentive to make behavioural change.
- Information provision:
Decision makers do not have access to information platforms to make organizational change.
- Integration & Analysis:
Personalized water information can only be created by combining publically available water information with private water usage information only available to water service providers.
Guidelines for water management system design are lacking.
Poor behaviour, organizational errors, and water losses go undetected.
End users at all levels do not know if their individual water consumption pattern is high or low compared to similar users.
Tariffs, “Water Passports (or audits)” and “Water Footprints” need standards work.
The root cause is that in developed countries water (even now) has not been adequately considered as a resource. The result is that our water infrastructure, business models, and behaviours at all levels of the water value chain reflect this fact. Subsequently, the drive to develop and implement ICT in the sector is lagging. However, there is the significant opportunity to accelerate the development and implementation of ICT-based water awareness, management and conservation solutions by following best practices and lessons learned from the energy markets. These include monitoring devices and services, dashboard interfaces, decision support tools, energy passports, energy labelling schemes, smart meters, variable pricing schemes, demand response, demand management, peak clipping, and peak shifting amongst others. The need for such measures can be seen from the following statistics taken from the Europe 2020 Flagship Initiative Union 47, the Commission’s initiative on Smart Cities and Communities 48 and the European Innovation Partnership on Water 49:
- Global energy and water demand is expected to rise 40% over the next 20 years
- By 2025, 1.8 billion people will live in water scarce regions and two thirds subjected to water stress
- 20-40% of Europe’s water is being wasted
- Water supply and sanitation is a large energy consumer. In California (for example) it represents 19% of electricity and 30% of natural gas consumption
- Current water consumptions and behaviours are not sustainable and we are almost crossing the global sustainable environmental threshold (tipping point)
- Europe has the opportunity to pursue a global leadership position in water-related ICT technologies
With this background, the goal of the WATERNOMICS project is to provide personalised and actionable information about water consumption and water availability to individual households, companies and cities in an intuitive and effective manner at a time-scale relevant for decision making. Access to this information will increase end-user awareness and improve the quality of the decisions from decision makers regarding water management and water government. WATERNOMICS will accomplish this by:
- Combining water usage related information from various sources and domains to offer water information services to end-users (see Fig. 1)
- Making water usage related information accessible across devices and locations
- Supporting personalised interaction with water information services (see Fig. 1)
- Conducting knowledge transfer from energy management systems to water management systems
- Enabling sharing of water information services across communities of users
- Showing that generic water information services can be used in a variety of environments, geological, environmental and social
- Enabling open (collaborative) business models and flexible pricing mechanisms that are responsive to both demand and climate/environmental conditions (e.g. drought periods)
WATERNOMICS will use both new and state of the art sensors and water meters to provide new services (applications) and add new features like leakage detection, fault detection and water awareness games. These services will be bundled into the WATERNOMICS Water Information Services Platform, or short name, WATERNOMICS Platform. This software platform will be able to integrate (convergence layer) on top of existing water infrastructures or be employed using dedicated sensors fielded using the project methodology for water management system design.