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Increased digitalization can lead to a more sustainable water sector

Wednesday 23 Oct 19

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Peter Steen Mikkelsen
Professor
DTU Environment
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High Tech Summit

The focus of this year's DTU High Tech Summit is how digitalisation and new technologies can contribute to solving climate and environmental issues.

Conference themes are:

  • Big Data & Artificial Intelligence
  • Industry 4.0 & Robotics
  • Internet of Things
  • Business Inside Technology
  • Sustainable Energy, Environment & Climate
  • Startup & Entrepreneurship
  • For the Global Goals

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Increased digitalization in the water sector and utilization of new technological opportunities are the themes of the first dedicated track about water at the upcoming DTU High Tech Summit on 30-31 October 2019.

The world is in agreement that water is more important than ever. In cities and businesses as well as in agriculture and nature, water is essential and is a large part of the basis for growth across sectors. Furthermore, water management is becoming increasingly digital, and so are the measures being developed to combat the effects of climate change such as drought, floods, etc.

Denmark is among the world leaders in the water technology field. However, a sector development report published by DTU in the spring of 2019 pointed out that greater cooperation in the industry is needed if the potential of digitalization is to be exploited fully.

“The report and the subsequent hearing in the Danish Parliament made it clear that there is still some way to go before Denmark has fully exploited the opportunities of digitalization for new technologies, smarter products and robust planning tools,” says Peter Steen Mikkelsen, Professor at DTU Environment and Center Leader at Water DTU.

Discussions among industry players
Peter Steen Mikkelsen hopes that players from all parts of the water industry will attend the upcoming DTU High Tech Summit. Here, the latest advances in the area will be presented, and there will be a debate about how to make the sector even more efficient, innovative, and sustainable through increased digitalization.

“The main goal of the new track on water technology and digitalization at the High Tech Summit is to bring all players together—researchers, authorities, businesses, startups, consultants, and utility companies—so we can discuss how Denmark can contribute to the continued sustainable development of this field. We have come a long way, but we need a more focused joint effort if we are to reach the water sector’s own goal of increased growth and exports by 2025,” says Peter Steen Mikkelsen.

At the High Tech Summit, there will be four different sessions with presentations and discussions from researchers, businesses, and authorities. The sessions will take place on both days of the High Tech Summit on 30 and 31 October, and each session has its own focus on digitalization in the water sector. More specifically, the sessions will deal with the use of resources in wastewater, digital tools for coastal protection and climate adaptation, water for smart liveable cities, and data for water and climate services.

“‘Smart liveable cities’ focuses on utilizing water for the benefit of the citizens, like in the harbour baths. This idea can be used in other areas such as establishing rainwater beds and cloudburst roads that make the city more beautiful. And in theory, digitalization can be used to, e.g., close gullies automatically in cases of downpour. Thus, the increased amounts of rainwater are stored on cloudburst roads, even in less severe downpour, until the sewage system has room again, so we don’t risk unwanted overflows,” says Peter Steen Mikkelsen.

Another session places particular focus on coastal protection, where a new digital tool for decision-makers is being developed. The third session is about exploiting the increased amount of data to create improved tools for anticipating weather events such as cloudbursts. Finally, the fourth session focuses on sustainability in the interplay between water supply and waste and wastewater management.

The discussions among players from the water sector at the High Tech Summit will serve as a prelude to 2020, where Denmark will host the world’s largest event in the water technology field. This event is the big IWA World Water Conference & Exhibition with 10,000 visitors from all over the world, which will take place on 18-23 October 2020 in Copenhagen.

“Here we have a unique opportunity to show our latest research and innovation and the latest ideas for solutions which I hope the water sector will adopt and develop in cooperation over the next year,” says Peter Steen Mikkelsen.

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