Flash report: ICT4Water cluster Annual Event 2019

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Brussels, June 11, 2019
On 11 June the ICT4Water cluster Annual event gathered nearly 100 professionals from the smart water community and 27+ member projects to work together on the digital transformation of the water sector. The event was organised in Brussels by EASME and combined speeches from keynote speakers with workshops and interactive sessions.
The cluster is strongly supported by the European Commission, as mentioned in their speeches by Julien Guerrier (EASME Director) and Cristina Martinez (Deputy Head of Unit Smart Mobility & Living of DG Connect). In fact, Julien Guerrier noted that “We count on the Cluster to help us deliver digitalization” in the water management sector. He underlined that the cluster’s  Action Plan until 2030  is “ambitious” and prompted member projects for action in order advance with its implementation. Lastly, he announced that “the cluster will acquire a new on-line collaborative platform” with the support of EASME. The platform will allow cluster members to “reach-out peers, understand their work and build synergies”.
Gabriel Anzaldi presented the status of the Action Plan and the Water Value chains. (presentation)

Two success stories featured at the Annual meeting

Jorge Helmbrecht, CEO of WatEner, presented the story of his company starting from the WatERP project (financed by FP7 and one of the first members of the cluster) to a successful market player. The company offers a web platform for improving daily operation and management of water networks in the water-energy nexus using artificial intelligence. (presentation)
Niklas Wicén, CEO of Aqua Robur Technologies, shared the entrepreneurial journey that brought Aqua Robur from vision to award-winning business. The company recently received the EUR 2 million worth European Commission “Horizon Prize for Zero Power Water Monitoring” for its innovative solutions to monitor water networks.

Panel discussion with policy makers and industry representatives

Policy-makers from DG Research & Innovation (Violeta Kuzmickaite), DG Environment (Tobias Biermann), DG Connect (Cristina Martinez and Antonio Sanchez Aparicio) participated in a panel together with the CEO of WatEner Jorge Helmbrecht, and cluster’s designated expert Gabriel Anzaldi director of of the Smart Management Systems Unit in Eurecat.and discussed on “The importance of water digitalization for Europe”. The panel was moderated by Evdokia Achilleos, Senior Project Adviser in EASME.
The conclusion of this brief discussion was that the digital transformation of water sector is important and urgent, especially in a European setting where there is a lot of capacity and potential but also challenges that need to be more efficiently addressed. Despite the progress there are still a many advancements needed in overcoming financial, technological, governance, and market barriers for a wider deployment of ICT solutions. The ICT4cluster, through the implementation of the action plan, is expected to have a significant contribution in the digital transformation of the sector.

Water Innovator’s café

water value chainIn the Water Innovator’s café, the participants broke into seven parallel thematic sessions. Based on their position on the Water Value Chain, member projects presented their solutions and identified possible synergies and complementarities. Below the main outcomes of the seven topics discussed summarized in tweet-style.
1.Transverse Best Practices: “Sharing is benefiting for all! Community of practice, living Labs & serious games for best public engagement.” Projects that participated: AFRIALIANCE, NEXTGEN, SIM4NEXUS
2.Operation of other water related assets: “ICT4Water projects joining forces to improve fairness on water use, e.g. by building an industrial dataspace for water.” Projects that participated: DIANA Rescue, SmartMet, SWAMP
3.Operations of water networks: “We are all smart water! Joining forces to improve #operations #security #water-networks” Projects that participated: Project Ô, Smart Water, STOP-IT, SWSS, WADI
4.Water quality monitoring and validation: “Cover water quality of the complete water cycle” Projects that participated: FIWARE4WATER, SCOREWATER, INTEGROIL
5.Operations of water treatments: “ICT for smart circular urban and peri-urban water and wastewater treatment” Projects that participated: AQUANES, EFFIDRAIN, INNOQUA, SMART PLANT
6.Material recovery: Most important complementarities: Development of technologies, adaptation and scalability, ICT for knowledge integration Projects that participated: HYDROUSA, INCOVER, RUN4LIFe
7.Customers and marketing: Most important complementarities: Collection of end-user requirements, end-user engagement, interoperability of data Projects that participated: INCATCH, POWER, NAIADES

Kick-off Action Groups

The annual cluster event for 2019  was the occasion to kick-off 7 Action Groups as defined in the ICT4Water Action Plan. The Action Group Leaders had prepared interactive sessions for each of the Action Groups in which participants discussed and shared results in a smaller setting. The following Action Groups kicked-off:
Action Group “Interoperability & Standardization” led by Aitor Corchero (Eurecat) and Xavier Domingo (Eurecat). The session was co-organized with the  European Telecommunications Standards Institute [ETSI] as of the cluster’s participation  at the Specialist Task Force 566 . The Task Force is working on the validation of use cases and requirements for the SAREF ontology with application in the water domain. Hence a workshop was carried-out with the title “SAREF4WATER: validation of use cases and requirements”.
Action Group “Data Sharing” led by Floor Brouwer (Wageningen Research) and Chrysi Laspidou (University of Thessaly). Experiences in sharing multi-sector data were presented. More examples of sharing multi-sector data from multidisciplinary research actions were discussed with the goal to come to a community of practices to add value from data sharing towards improved decision-making.
Action Group “Cyber Security” led by Rita Ugarelli (SINTEF), Raphael Giménez (CETAQUA) and Gustavo Gonzalez (ATOS) with representative from  ERNCIP project the Thematic Group (TG) for Chemical and Biological Risks to Drinking Water. Together they worked on a common vision on the current risks, challenges and stakeholders on cybersecurity and protection of critical infrastructures for water.
Action Group “Actor Awareness” combined with the session “Regional innovation systems and digital innovation hubs ” led by Christos Markopoulos (NTUA) and Gilles Neveu (OIEAU). DG CNECT unit A2 for Digital Innovation Hubs was invited to participate together with two regional innovation hubs: DREAM REGIONAL cluster based in Centre-Val de Loire and CWP: Catalan Water Partnership. The regional hubs in question are associations with a mission to support innovation among their affiliated members in the area of water management (not only ICT). The discussion span around how “Regional hubs can act as gateways to promote / streamline the cluster’s outcomes at regional level as close to the demand side as possible”.
Action Group “Policy” led by Albert Chen (Exeter) discussed how to develop policies for accelerating novel ICT applications in water sectors.
Action Group “Business Models” led by Eva Martínez Díaz (Aqualia).  Niklas Wicén, CEO of Aqua Robur Technologies and Jorge Helmbrecht, CEO of WatEner delivered a short presentation at the beginning regarding business model engineering for the water sector. Then, an interactive workshop took place on how to conceptualize and illustrate a successful business model for  digital water solutions with participants splitting into 2 groups: the first group being the product/ service owners who promoted their solution to the second group who were potential buyers of the solution and in turn they were making inquiries based on the information provided.
Action Group “Smart Water” led by Joep van den Broeke (KWR), Franck Le Gall (EGM) and Evina Katsou (Brunel) are working on guidelines and best practices for future full digital water value chain implementation, including cross domain knowledge exchange.

Introduction of ten new member projects

The cluster welcomed the ten projects who joined the cluster since last year’s event. The projects are:
H2020 AfriAlliance: Africa-EU Innovation Alliance for Water and Climate (presentation)
H2020 Ground Truth 2.0: Environmental knowledge discovery of human sensed data (presentation)
LIFE EFFIDRAIN: Efficient Integrated Real-time Control in Urban Drainage and Wastewater Treatment Plants for Environmental Protection (presentation)
H2020 DIANA: Detection and Integrated Assessment of Non-authorised water Abstractions using EO (presentation)
LIFE SmartWater: Demonstration of smart actuators to reduce water losses and energy consumption in water supply infrastructures in Europe (presentation)
H2020 RESCCUE: RESilience to cope with Climate Change in Urban arEas – a multisectorial approach focusing on water (presentation)
H2020 Fiware4water: FIWARE for the Next Generation Internet Services for the WATER sector (presentation)
H2020 DWC: DIGITAL-WATER.city (presentation)
H2020 ScoreWater: Smart City Observatories implement REsilient Water management (presentation)
H2020 NAIADES: A holistic water ecosystem for digitisation of urban water sector (presentation)

All presentations are also published on the ICT4Water Community Platform (only for ICT4Water Cluster members): https://community-smei.easme-web.eu/
Check also the meeting report on the EASME website: https://ec.europa.eu/easme/en/news/ict4water-annual-meeting-digital-transformation-water-sector  
The ICT4Water Team,
Gabriel Anzaldi, Sander Smit, Lydia Vamvakeridou-Lyroudia, Evdokia Achilleos, Antonio Sanchez Aparicio & Sotirios Kanellopoulos