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Final catch-up with the Alicante pilot


All good things come to an end! In a final interview, we catch up with Ignacio Casals, Head of R&D at Aguas de Alicante (Spain), to give us an update on the results of Alicante in the NAIADES Project and discuss what’s next for our Spanish pilot!

Question: We've reached the end of the project - where do we stand for the Alicante pilot?

Answer: We have fulfilled the initial objectives, and shown the capacities of NAIADES in three different use cases in Alicante. We are currently testing and validating the functionalities of the solutions implemented for these cases, assessing the impact of NAIADES on our operations. As it often happens, many new ideas to go beyond the solutions we have developed are arising; but these will have to be the goal of our next projects. The use cases tackle different stages of the urban water cycle, from water distribution to consumption or sewerage; thus, we have a good picture of the great potential of the approach of NAIADES.

Question: Has NAIADES helped Alicante resolving its challenges? How? 

Answer: All the use cases we raised are related to the challenge of water resources' sustainability and efficiency, in one way or another. The first one, focused on water demand forecast, provides the basis for the operational and strategic management of water supply: you need to have an accurate knowledge of how much water will be consumed in the next days or months, to be able to plan in advance the use of resources. The second use case is related to the problem of saline water infiltration into the sewer network. This issue, common in coastal cities, is often unknown, but when this saline water gets to the waste water treatment plant, it becomes a big problem for treatment, and especially for water reuse, which is a key component of sustainability in water scarce regions as Alicante. Finally, the third use case has solved the question of the daily supervision of the municipal water consumption points in our city, such as green areas, schools, sport facilities... there are hundreds of such points, and it is really hard to know if the consumption in them is the right one or maybe too high, or if they have internal leaks or any other problem related to water use.

Question: What have been the main lessons that you have learned and that you would like to share as a closing note ?

Answer: The main lesson might be that it really makes sense to go for a holistic solution such as NAIADES, which is able to offer functionalities for the full urban water cycle, making use of very different sources of information: from existing legacy systems, such as our network flowmeters, to dedicated sensors for the sewers, or domestic IoT smart meters. Another lesson is related to the use of AI and machine learning approaches for predictions (such as in water demand forecast) and anomaly detection (as in the case of the detection of saline water infiltration to the sewers), which have provided a key added value to traditional analysis.

Question: What's next for Alicante and smart water management? 

Answer: We obviously want to take advantage of the experience and extend the approach of NAIADES to many other aspects of the water cycle management, from drinking water production to waste water treatment and reuse. The Spanish Government has just launched a strategic plan to support the digitalization of the urban water cycle, financed with Next Generation funds, which is a great opportunity to implement this philosophy all across our activities. Thus, we are defining now a global digitalization project for water in the city of Alicante, which will owe much to the lessons learned during these years at NAIADES.