Intelligent water management in Belgium The Internet of Water

»Unser Wasser ist knapp und muss nachhaltig behandelt werden,« sagt Flanderns Ministerpräsident Geert Bourgeois.
Flanders’ Minister-President Geert Bourgeois: »Our water is scarce and needs to be treated in a sustainable way.«

Flanders pioneers the internet of Water, an intelligent water management system based on a network of connected sensors, that enables a permanent and real time follow-up of water quality and water quantity. On Tuesday Flanders’ Minister-President Geert Bourgeois has activated a first sensor.

With the internet of Water, Flanders (Dutch speaking part of Belgium) aims to roll-out a large-scale permanent sensor network that maps the available water reserves and monitors the water demand at the same time.

The network, will feature more than 1,000 small, wireless low power water quality sensors spread around Flanders, that will continuously monitor the quality of soil water, groundwater, surface water and purified sewage water, to better align the available water reserves to the demand.

On Tuesday, a pilot project was launched, starting with the first experiments to examine how measurements can be done accurately, to explore the technical challenges to guarantee the reliability and scalability of a broad network, and to determine how to visualize the data and make them available for the public.

Permanent follow-up with self-learning software

Five companies and research institutions leverage their expertise for this project with a large societal interest. The five partners of this project – VITO, De Watergroep, Aquafin, imec & Vlakwa – have the ambition to turn Flanders into an international front runner in smart water management through the application of innovative digital technologies.

The sensors are developed by imec and can measure, acidity and conductivity, as well as quantify diverse dissolved substances in the water. Self-learning algorithms will process the large amounts of data from the sensors for the permanent and real-time monitoring of water quality and quantity, and also to feed the models that predict future evolutions. Through the VITO dashboards users will be connected directly to the »Water brain« for optimum use of available water.

The need for a system to follow-up the quality and quantity of water on a large scale became obvious in the last years. Water inconvenience or water scarcity are issues that almost live permanently in the public opinion today – with the drought of this and last year and the strong thunderstorms of this spring. Therefore the internet of Water is of big importance to various actors in the water business.