We are identifying the challenges of modular infrastructure systems for the Swiss economy and society. This issue is to be explored using the example of urban water management.
Modular water infrastructure systems result from the potentials of new information, communication and measurement technologies that, for example, can lead to a far-reaching decentralisation of wastewater treatment and thus to a dismantling of sewage systems. These new technologies would enable a radical reorganisation of the sector. In this project we are determining how modular infrastructure systems impact industrial and utility companies, associations and authorities that are responsible for today’s urban water management.
Modular water infrastructure systems make it possible to provide supply services in fundamentally new ways. However, the sustainability of such developments is largely unclear. Particularly in the area of urban water management there are risks of making bad investments. Conversely, overlooking development trends for municipalities and utility companies could prove costly, as the electricity sector has shown impressively in recent years.
From an industrial point of view, we are investigating whether and how Swiss companies can play a leading role internationally in the area of modular water infrastructure. In the area of waste management responsibility, we are asking how the involved players can prepare themselves for possible scenarios. We then aim to combine both these questions in order to assess whether Switzerland can and should play a pioneering role in the implementation of modular concepts.
The project will be run by researchers from Eawag, the ETH Zurich, and consulting firm Ecoplan, and will involve close cooperation with practitioners from industry, utility companies, associations and authorities. The know-how of the various experts will be combined with scientific insights from the fields of economics, political science, economic geography and innovation research.