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Protecting the planet: The technological trends shaping water management in 2024

  • Protecting the planet: The technological trends shaping water management in 2024
  • There are multiple challenges facing the water sector in 2024, including water scarcity, increased demand for water and the risk of extreme events, which all underscore the need to implement solutions to improve water cycle management.

  • Once again, technology has a central role to play in this scenario, as the Idrica report entitled Water Technology Trends 2024. Shaping a smart future for the water sector, points out.

About the entity

Idrica
Experts in digital transformation for the water industry. We provide services and Xylem Vue Powered by GoAigua’s technological solution for the water cycle management.

Themes

In 2024, the water sector will be marked by the confluence of technology, sustainability and cooperation in a world facing one of the most water-stressed scenarios in history, with growing demand for water, ever greater numbers of people living in water-scarce areas, and more and more frequent climate change-related events.

Whereas 2023 was the year in which artificial intelligence was democratized, in 2024, water utilities' efforts will be focused on streamlining water management and energy efficiency. This improvement is intrinsically linked to digital transformation, as Idrica, a pioneer in the digital transformation of the water sector, points out in its latest report "Water Technology Trends 2024. Shaping a smart future for the water sector ", which includes some of the trends that are already defining the roadmap for the year ahead.

Digital transformation and automation of DWTPs and networks

First, the report compiled by the international water-sector technology company points out that drinking water treatment plants (DWTPs) "will continue to invest in automating plant management through technology". In this sense, the report highlights the importance of harnessing, optimizing and strengthening data to promote automation. In addition, monitoring key variables will ensure optimum hygiene and sanitation conditions in water consumption.    

Furthermore, the report points out that drinking water networks must implement digital transformation to boost management efficiency and sustainability. In this regard, the report drafted by Idrica highlights a series of groundbreaking developments that are set to revolutionize the sector, such as digital twins, advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and leak detection tools.

In addition, the report states that utilities will be spending more time and investment in strengthening their cyber security in 2024.

Digital transformation of WWTPs and technologies applied to networks

Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) will also be harnessing data as the basis of their digital transformation, combining the implementation of new technologies with the use of advanced treatments. This will not only improve operability but will also enable utilities to enhance the quality of treated water, reduce costs, and maximize the value perceived by the customer.

Automation and control, the Internet of Things (IoT), big data and advanced analytics, superior treatment and innovative technologies, improved efficiency and renewable energy, and digital twins are some of the new technologies in 2024 that will be gaining traction as drivers of change.

Technology is also set to play a key role in sanitation networks in 2024. According to Vicente Balanzá, a water specialist at Idrica, "there are great opportunities available to improve sanitation systems through the use of smart digital solutions in 2024. They include preventing and anticipating overflows in these systems and dealing with them, as well as providing new uses for wastewater epidemiology, and even bringing it into the smart cities’ roadmap".

Irrigation sustainability through process digitalization

Another cornerstone of the economy that is already driving the 2024 agenda is agricultural irrigation, which will continue to play a leading role as a guarantor of food security.

Begoña Tarrazona, an Irrigation Specialist at Idrica, pointed out that the implementation of digital solutions such as those included in the PERTE (Strategic Projects for Economic Recovery and Transformation) in Spain, "will drive the necessary digital transformation of irrigation water user associations, thus optimizing resources, enhancing environmental sustainability and bolstering crop efficiency".

According to Idrica, some of the technological trends that are set to gain momentum in 2024 are enhanced water governance, the deployment of geographic information systems, remote sensing for soil moisture, and improved energy efficiency.

Integrated water resource management

In 2024, digital transformation will become an essential tool to address the challenge of integrated water resource management. Analyzing data, identifying trends and applying technologies such as big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) are pivotal elements in the new era of water management.

Moving towards resilient, sustainable water management also involves ongoing deployment of innovative technologies, international cooperation and a holistic approach that encompasses everything from prevention to rapid response strategies. On this path, "DSS and EWS systems are essential allies in building a future where water is managed efficiently, responsively and sustainably," said Sergio Morant, a business development consultant at Idrica.

Smart buildings and DHC networks

There are two trends in the current race towards energy efficiency and savings that are set to play a key role in 2024: smart buildings and District Heating and Cooling (DHC) networks.

Smart buildings use advanced technology-based facilities and systems that are automatically and seamlessly controlled, increasing their energy efficiency, sustainability and safety. Technological developments such as behavior prediction, energy efficiency, end-to-end integration and sustainability will shape the smart buildings market in 2024, according to Beatriz Bolonio, a smart buildings & industry specialist at Idrica.

Moreover, DHC networks are infrastructures that supply thermal energy to multiple buildings at the same time. They function by harnessing energy resources from various sources, such as industry and wastewater treatment plants. In the words of Beatriz Bolonio, "this is another of the trends that will be key in the coming year as part of the transition towards more sustainable energy, as well as to reducing the emissions generated by cities."

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