Why data standardization is crucial for the supply of safe and secure water

It is common for professionals in the water sector to face problems related to data collection, analysis and visualization, as there are a lot of different solutions offering the same results, while following a different approach or methodology. This creates a harmonization gap in respect to the data provided to operators, and hinders their successful collaboration with other relevant stakeholders.

However, there are some solutions to this challenge. aqua3S is a Horizon 2020 project combining novel technologies in water safety and security, which aims to standardize existing sensor technologies, complemented by state-of-the-art detection mechanisms, as an attempt to bridge the aforementioned gap. Specifically, the project creates strategies and methods allowing water facilities to easily integrate water solutions and to standardise existing and newly developed sensor technologies in one place. As a result, it presents information on a common platform, allowing water operators to correlate data and identify the source of a crisis within the water system and its evolution over time. Furthermore, it improves cross-organisational collaboration as teams now have access to the same data and can make better-informed decisions.


Expected outcomes: a breadth of digital tools for improving water quality, safety and security

The aqua3S project is expected to create strategies and methods that will enable a water facility to easily integrate water security solutions. The aqua3S project consortium has adopted the FIWARE platform, which is an open-source platform that enables the development of portable and interoperable smart solutions in a fast and affordable way. It enables all aqua3S developed modules to follow specific rules that will facilitate their integration into new and existing water systems.

In addition, aqua3S will propose innovative sensor technologies to support water safety and security. Two innovative sensors have been developed: a mid-infrared sensor that detects ammonia down to 1ppm with less frequent calibration; and a low-cost, highly sensitive refractive index sensor that detects changes in water composition in real-time.

aqua3S can also create early warning methods for water authorities.  Data from satellites (for oil spills and algae bloom), and data from social media platforms like Twitter, where citizens report low-quality water in their area, are also used to create early warnings. aqua3S can alert water authorities by raising an anomaly detection which is based on the values of the above-mentioned sensors. These are able to detect potential anomalies of the system, even if the collected measurements are within a normal range of values.

The project can develop methods to estimate infrastructure resilience. aqua3S uses a combined analysis of satellite images, social media posts, and data from legacy tools of stakeholders facilitated by machine learning. This enables the project to develop methods for determining flood hazards, outlining risk maps, and estimating infrastructure resilience.

Finally, aqua3S can be used for modeling and classifying crisis events. aqua3S is currently working to develop models that capture critical events and crises related to water quality. Like the flood related models, these models use data from multiple sources including sensors and social media. Aqua3S can be a precious tool to assist in the prediction of critical events and to better understand them in the future and prevent crises.

Although there are several technologies developed for the analysis of drinking water, there is still an important gap on how these can be successfully integrated into existing water safety networks.  This gap is preventing multiple water safety/security technologies from reaching their full potential and hindering water utilities and water operators from acting more efficiently and promptly. aqua3S seeks to bridge the gap between emerging and existing water sensor technologies and facilitates the adoption of new safety and security measures for utilities, without having to completely replace their current systems and operations. Moreover, aqua3S can improve cross-organisational collaboration between teams thanks to its key functionality presenting data in a uniform way.


Project history and current status

aqua3S is a Horizon 2020 funded 3-year project which started in September 2019. The project is coordinated by CERTH-ITI and involves 22 partners across Europe with diverse backgrounds and expertise, providing a complete solution to stakeholders.

The first version of the aqua3S platform and the first cycle of pilots were successfully showcased through tabletop exercises in November 2020. Our end users tested the first prototype through multiple scenarios by simulating their daily operations and emergencies that could be dealt with the aqua3S system. Currently, the project consortium is working towards the development of the second prototype and the second cycle of pilots which are planned to take place on February 2022.

All of our pilots are listed below:

  • Italy: Aqueduct monitoring
  • Greece: River and Water Treatment Plant monitoring
  • France: Monitoring the Sénéo Water Supply System
  • Cyprus: Desalinated and treated surface water monitoring
  • Belgium: Water supply system monitoring
  • Bulgaria: Iskar dam and drinking water network monitoring
  • Bulgaria: Water quality parameters monitoring

Anastasios Karakostas

Researcher, CERTH-ITI

Anastasia Moumtzidou

Research Associate, CERTH-ITI