Chair of Smart Water Networks

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New open-access publication in npj Clean Water

Our Smart Water Networks group led a study with international collaborators from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Politecnico di Milano, KWR Water Research Institute, and Griffith University, which sheds light on the current state of digital transformation in water utilities through a global perspective. 

Climate change and urbanization challenge utilities’ pursuit of water security worldwide. While water utilities are directly impacted by climate change, their operations also contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Digital technologies have proven effective in improving utilities’ operations, leading to a more sustainable urban water cycle. However, the global progress of digital water transformation remains largely understudied.

In our new paper, published in npj Clean Water, we present the results of an online survey involving 64 utilities from 28 countries investigating the impacts of digital transformation on the water utility sector, its drivers, and key-enabling technologies. We found that the water distribution system is the entry point to further adoption of digital technologies in the whole urban water cycle. Furthermore, technology adoption is driven primarily by economic benefits, followed by government regulation and hydroclimatic factors. Starting from the survey results, we point out avenues for further research targeting a better understanding of the influence of regulation, corporate mindset, and consumer involvement for successful digital transformation.

Read the full paper: Daniel, I., Ajami, N.K., Castelletti, A. et al. A survey of water utilities’ digital transformation: drivers, impacts, and enabling technologies. npj Clean Water 6, 51 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41545-023-00265-7

Geographical distribution of water utilities that responded to the Smart Water Survey. Colored circles represent the location of the 64 water utilities that provided complete responses to the survey (after data cleaning). Each circle is placed in the geographical center of a country, with the color bar indicating the number of respondents per country. In total, respondent utilities were from 28 countries worldwide.