Launch of Digital Delta: large-scale research project for smarter water management

28 June 2013 by Webredactie M&C

Rijkswaterstaat, IBM, the Delfland Water Board, TU Delft, and Deltares announced the launch of the Digital Delta project on 25 June. For a period of twelve months, these organisations will be jointly examining how more effective ways of sharing information and the smart re-use of ICT applications can improve water management in the Netherlands and, at the same time, enhance the economic position of the Dutch water industry internationally.

The Netherlands has the most effective water management system in the world, but fast-changing weather conditions and other factors are resulting in greater water management costs in the country every year. According to the Water Management Agreement, the Dutch government spends seven billion euros on water management every year, an amount that is set to rise by one to two billion euros during the next seven years if no action is taken. It is clear that parties in the water industry are better off working together and sharing available information more extensively.The aim of the Digital Delta project is therefore to pool the information from different water projects and make it more easily available. Examples of such information could relate to rainfall, water levels, water quality, dyke sensors, as well as radar data, forecast models, and data on sluices, pumping stations and dams. 

Digitale Delta from Vincent Sendra de Jongste on Vimeo.

Better analysis and use of data

After the information has been pooled, the parties will look to see how ICT applications can be used to analyse the data to make it easier to predict water quality and the risk of flooding or drought. By better analysing and using large quantities of available data, Digital Delta will soon be in a position to formulate responses to the increasing challenges of flooding and water shortages.  

Encouraging research and new solutions

The parties involved are seeking to use Digital Delta to encourage research into water management and to boost employment in the sector. The project will open up data to the public and make it readable, thereby enabling a range of water management organisations to devise new solutions, and allowing research to be conducted more quickly and at less cost. This applies not just to water authorities and Rijkswaterstaat, but also to water experts and researchers. In addition, Dutch researchers and entrepreneurs will be able to use Digital Delta in other parts of the world in order to protect people from water.  

Projects involved

Digital Delta will initially be targeted at water projects in the region covered by the Delfland Water Board and Rijkswaterstaat. If the trial is successful, the possibility of sharing information in the water industry at national level will be considered. Some examples: 

- Predicting water quantities
In the context of the Digital Delta project, Rijkswaterstaat and the water authorities will optimise their information about water levels – there is currently no central information system on the subject in the Netherlands, with information often being passed on by telephone or e-mail. With one central ICT platform, the data will be easier to access. Thanks to the real-time sharing of data, forecast models will become more accurate, as a result of which it will be possible to intervene when water levels get too high or too low. High water will be diverted as efficiently as possible, while during long periods of drought, water will be retained longer in order to prevent salinisation or damage to agriculture. 

-  Faster intervention
Relevant parties are actively working together in the area managed by the Delfland Water Board in order to establish a situation that is adapted to regional water management. This involves cooperating with companies like Hydrologic and IBM to develop a new warning system in the event of flooding. By combining large quantities of real-time data relating to water discharge systems and water levels with meteorological data and simulation models, water managers will be better placed to monitor the available water storage capacity. As a result, action can be taken more quickly when floods are imminent. This data will also be made available via the digital platform to other parties who can use it to launch their own water projects. Delfland has made its region available as a testing ground in order for this to be achieved.  

- TU Delft Campus Monitoring Network
The TU Delft Water Management department has started a project to set up a monitoring network on the campus that will be easy to expand. Contributing towards developments in the field of sensors and being able to respond flexibly to such developments are of great importance here, and the Digital Delta will be playing a major part. Another important aim in setting up this monitoring network as a demonstrator is to generate enthusiasm among students for monitoring. 

More information
Please look for more information at the original pressrelease of Rijkswaterstaat (only in Dutch).

Contact TU Delft N.C. van de Giesen,, (015) 27 87180.
TU Delft science information officer Roy Meijer, (015) 2781751.

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