December 18, 2020 Digitalisation

In review: a year of water digitalisation

This unprecedented year has made clear to all of us the extent to which we depend on digital technologies in both our personal and working lives.

While the world was fighting against the global pandemic, many organisations and universities were fighting for survival, armed with platforms such as Zoom, Teams, and Skype in order to keep in contact with key stakeholders, suppliers and customers.

During the year, all sectors of society, including the water industry, have sought to maintain efficient services and operations despite the challenging situation. In this regard, the IWA Digital Water Programme (DWP), launched in 2019, has produced several outputs that have highlighted the importance of updated water systems that integrate smarter approaches.

This year, webinars such as Managing risks from digitalisation in the water sector or blogs like The Drive towards Digital Transformation in AMP7  have helped the DWP reach some of its goals. Notably, to provide a platform for professionals to share experiences and promote leadership in transitioning to digital water solutions.

Another main aim of the DWP is to act as a catalyst for innovation, knowledge and best practice. As a result, this year has seen the publication of several white papers which have enriched the Digital Water White Paper series, which started in 2019 with the publication of the Digital Water Report: Industry leaders chart the transformation journey.

Contributing to this series, the white paper Artificial Intelligence Solutions for the Water Sector aimed to identify concrete uses of AI for addressing specific challenges in real-life water systems. Additionally, The importance of knowing what we do not know white paper was published to raise awareness of the many sources of uncertainty in digital decision making. While The role of Instrumentation in Digital Transformation white paper highlighted the importance of correct instrumentation for obtaining key digital data and metrics.

Finally, connected to the COVID-19 outbreak, the white paper Improving Public Health Through Smart Sanitation and Digital Water provided insights on the crucial role of digital technologies for innovation in public health, such as the value of remote monitoring. The paper was written in collaboration with the Toilet Board Coalition and launched on World Toilet Day.

Another notable achievement of 2020 was the launch of the Digital Water podcasts series. This series showcased the main points from the published white papers through 10-minute long interviews with the authors.

Overall, this has been a fruitful year for the IWA Digital Water Programme. As Strategic Programmes Officer, I was lucky to have a front-row seat to all these developments, and I look forward to further interesting achievements during 2021!

If you are interested in finding out more about the DWP, you can visit our webpage Engage with the Digital Water Programme and join the IWA Connect group on Digital Water!

Digital Water Programme Steering Committee

All of this would not have been possible without the leadership and contributions of the Digital Water Programme Steering Committee, which provided advice, support and guidance, ensuring the delivery of the above-mentioned outputs.

The Steering Committee consists of IWA members from different industry segments and individuals interested in the development of the Digital Water Programme.

A list of the members of the Digital Water Programme Steering Committee can be found below.

Dragan Savic

Chief Executive Officer

KWR Watercycle Research Institute

Chair of the Digital Water Programme Steering Committee

Avishek Chaudhuri

Water Industry Advisor

Tata consulting

Biju George

Executive Vice President, Operations and Engineering

DC Water

Cecilia Wennberg

Vice President, Urban Water


Amir Cahn

Executive Director


George Bauer

Knowledge Manager, Mobile for Development Utilities


Thomas Perianu

Senior Vice President, Smart Water


Branko Kerkez

Assistant Professor

University of Michigan

Junwei Jin

Deputy Director, Network Department

Shenzhen Water

Zoran Kapelan

Chair and Professor of Urban Water Infrastructure,

Department of Water Management

Delft University of Technology

Rik Thijssen

Manager, Business Development


Vladan Babovic


National University of Singapore

Martin Shouler

Associate Director


Ingmar Nopens


Ghent University

Philippe Gourbesville


University of Nice Sophia Antipolis

Eveline Volcke


Ghent University

Randolf Waters

Director, Strategy & Marketing – Europe


Oliver Grievson

Technical Lead for the Water Industry

Z-Tech Control Systems

Paul Fleming

Water Program Manager


Enrique Cabrera

Vice President at International Water Association,

Professor at Universitat Politècnica de València

Stuart Hamilton

Managing Director

Hydrotec Ltd.

Helena Alegre

Director, Hydraulics and Environment Department

Laboratório Nacional de Engenharia Civil (LNEC)