Interview with Ilari Aho, Leader of the WG Water Distribution Infrastructure
Why is it important to have a Working Group dedicated to the theme of ‘Water Distribution Infrastructure’?
As we all know, it is projected that more than 2/3 of the world population will live in urban areas by 2050 while water use is projected to increase by 20-30%. Urban water infrastructure is globally deteriorating due to under-investment in maintenance and development of the networks, and digitalisation and intelligence of water distribution and waste water management are lagging behind most other sectors of the economy.
Cross-industry open innovation is required to boost the transformation of our water infrastructure to sustain urban growth, to ensure sustained access to high-quality drinking water and to improve the cost-efficiency of water supply.
What are the main priorities of the newly launched Working Group?
The main focus areas of the Working Group are related to how innovation can support the utility business challenges of asset management and development, enabling proactive and predictive management and maintenance of networks, and increasing the rate of digitalisation of and intelligence in water distribution infrastructure.
We will explicitly develop and plan our activities with a view on creating tangible economic, financial, environmental and social performance improvements for owners, operators and managers of water distribution infrastructure systems.
What are you currently working on and what are you expecting to deliver within the upcoming year?
For the first operating year, we foresee the development of a position paper on the state-of-the-art and main challenges for innovation in water distribution infrastructure. This will be developed, amongst other things, through a stakeholder survey identifying the current needs and priorities for innovation within the sector. Establishing this starting point will be followed by the development of a prioritised innovation roadmap and the identification of first major opportunities for collaborative innovation and R&D.
We also foresee establishing a database of best practice technologies, processes and practices within the focus area of the Working Group. After its official launch at Water Market Europe 2019 event, the Working Group is now organising a workshop on Thursday, March 19(14:00 – 15:30) back to back to Water Market Europe conference 2020.