Young voices for smart cities

As the ideas for tackling water shortages dwindle, governments are being encouraged to seek advice from young people to catalyse new thinking in management approaches and research areas. The Austrian Ministry of Environment and Water has pioneered the field 6 years ago and uses workshops at schools as a platform to inform and harness creative ways of thinking about excessive water consumption in urban areas. Similarly, the IWA community is holding a workshop for young water professionals to develop a policy roadmap that influences decision-makers of a European Commission project, WIDEST.

Most recently technology as a panacea for difficulties in water management practices has especially grown to be a point of contention. Cross-generational understanding of technological problems and opportunities is crucial for optimising water management approaches.


Technology in Water Management

Generally, water data networks are playing an ever more important role in water management for cities. The trajectory of urbanisation is blurry (as demonstrated in this visualisation), but its threats endangering public health, such as water pollution and costly infrastructure management are clear. The rise in demand for sensors, smart meters and software that tracks water consumption reflects the interest of municipalities to most efficiently provide safe water and sanitation to their citizens. This upward trend in urban technology consumption has come to stay as data gathering and processing methods continuously improve.

But digitalisation does not come without its challenges. Data about water usage, distribution and leaks are vast and largely scattered across multiple data models. This underpins the need for intelligent ways of differentiating between relevant bits of data that signal the need for action and noise.

In 2015 international organisations started to actively promote integration of data sources and adoption of common data models to exchange information in order to support decisions for urban water access and sanitation initiatives. A water management community that is able to work effectively and collaboratively needs an integrated ICT system that allows them to respond to water demands in real-time and keeps stakeholders well-informed. Young Indian developers found a solution and run social enterprises that take advantage of rising national smart phone coverage and cloud technologies. These monitor water availability of household tabs in rapidly growing urban areas. Their simple apps connect customers to water service companies and allow real-time reporting of leaks and other damages and therefore decreases service time.


Young voices in Smart Cities

As urbanisation increases so does the need for creating an enabling environment that allows stakeholders of all ages to discuss urban innovations. Cities around the globe need to consider young people as a source of solutions to local water issues. The IWA workshop aims to provide the generation that soon will be running the show with the tools and support to meaningfully engage in an analysis of issues pertaining to smart urban water management. “Young professionals need to get involved in discussions since they are the consumers and leaders of tomorrow and can influence decisions with innovative ideas.”, says Lisa Bross, the Chair of the YWP Organization Committee.


IWA Water IDEAS conference

Developing a Roadmap:  ICT solutions for Water in Smart Cities, An IWA Young Water Professionals’ workshop.

Wednesday 19th of October, 10:30-17:00

More info about the conference: 

Isabella Susnjara

Graduate Student, University of Oxford
Isabella Susnjara is the Co-Chair of the Organisation Committee. Discussions about increasing water demand and supply pressures triggered Isabella’s interest in ICT solutions that advance efficient water use. Her Master’s thesis investigated farm... Read full biography