I am a doctoral student in the interdisciplinary project POLAAR in the department of urban water management (SWW) and the research group Policy Analysis and Environmental Governance (PEGO) in the department of environmental social sciences (ESS) at Eawag as well as the Institute of Environmental Engineering (IfU) at ETH Zurich. My supervisors are Dr. Jörg Rieckermann, Dr. Manuel Fischer and Prof. Max Maurer.
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What are the biggest obstacles to a better surface water protection during wet-weather?
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Smart urban water systems: what could possibly go wrong?
Urban water systems are being redefined for a digital age, promising substantial advantages for service users and providers, and for society as a whole. However, beside the much-discussed benefits of smart urban water systems in future smart cities, the transition will also bring unique challenges, particularly with respect to privacy and cybersecurity. A preemptive delineation of these risks and providing appropriate recommendations will help to guide digital transformations of urban water towards sustainable solutions. Faced with emerging risks of digitalization, urban water management needs to look beyond technology while recognizing the central and multifaceted role of research.
In smart city initiatives, urban water systems remain largely out of the digitalization spotlight compared to other types of infrastructure. Oftentimes, the management and planning of urban water systems still follow traditional, steel and concrete-based approaches that treat used water as waste and not as a resource . The need for innovation, however, is significant: the infrastructure, operation, and maintenance cost of urban water systems around the world already ranges in the hundred billion dollars annually and water-related stresses are expected to continue rising. Digitalization could not only increase the flexibility and effectiveness of existing urban water systems, but could also allow for the provisions of new services to society. The envisioned transformation, as outlined for example in the literature [2–4], entails novel data collection and transmission techniques, analytical methods, models, and automation. For example, smart water meter data can be combined with noise loggers to detect and roughly locate leaks in water mains. Together with automated control infrastructure, pressure can be regulated to reduce water losses . By this and numerous other smart solutions, not only water distribution but also sewers and wastewater treatment will be transformed. In particular, digitalization facilitates large-scale implementation of disruptive technologies like decentralized wastewater treatment  and direct potable reuse, which will help cities to cope with climate change and urbanization.
However, we argue that as the benefits of smart urban water systems are increasingly explored and showcased in literature, it is time to also give attention to potential risks that might emerge. Recurring data breaches and the growing use of cyber-attacks for geopolitical ends are a reminder that the digitalization of society indeed carries risks. Given the critical role of water services in society and within the water-energy-food nexus, these risks must be identified and managed pro-actively. In the following, we raise awareness and suggest ways forward in approaching the unique privacy and security issues that accompany the digitalization of urban water systems. Finally, we highlight the central role of researchers in assessing and mitigating the potential risks of the smart urban water solutions they propose.
Saubere Gewässer dank Messdatenmanagement. Instrumente für einen guten Umgang mit Messdaten in der Schweizer Siedlungsentwässerung
Mit der fortschreitenden Digitalisierung gilt es heute als Stand der Technik, Messdaten über das Abwassersystem zu erheben, auszuwerten und zu archivieren. Wie der Wert von Messdaten für Betrieb, Planung und Leistungsüberprüfung ausgeschöpft werden kann, ist jedoch unklar. Um einen einheitlichen Einsatz von Messtechnik, z.B. an Regenüberlaufbecken, sowie einen guten Umgang mit erfassten Messdaten in der Schweizer Praxis zu schaffen, sind Anpassungen auf organisatorischer Ebene notwendig.
Manny, L.; Fischer, M.; Staufer, P.; Rieckermann, J. (2019) Saubere Gewässer dank Messdatenmanagement. Instrumente für einen guten Umgang mit Messdaten in der Schweizer Siedlungsentwässerung, Aqua & Gas, 99(1), 58-65, Institutional Repository