Two pivotal new projects, led by experts from the University of Exeter and designed to bolster research and education within the water sector, have secured a significant funding boost.
The new projects, led by world-leading researchers from Exeter’s The Centre for Water Systems (CWS), have secured £450,000 from Horizon Europe, the EU’s key funding programme for research and innovation into some of the world’s greatest challenges.
The three-year projects, called WATERLINE and WATERVERSE and which feature high-profile collaborations with academics and industry experts, begin in October 2022. The University of Exeter’s involvements in the projects are supported by the UKRI Horizon Europe Guarantee Funding.
Professor Albert Chen, project leads for the University of Exeter said: “These latest successes have demonstrated our consistently strong involvement in European projects – the CWS currently participates in ten European projects, three of which are coming to an end this year.
“We will contribute with our expertise in hydroinformatics and water systems modelling to WATERLINE and WATERVERSE, which will support the training of future water researchers and engineers, and enhance the management of water services.”
The first project, WATERLINE (Transforming Advanced Water Skilling through the Creation of a Network of Extended-reality Water Emulative Centres), coordinated by Malta College of Arts Science and Technology (MCAST), includes 15 partners from academia and industry.
WATERLINE aims to create a European Digital Water Higher Education Institution (HEI) Alliance and strengthen the research, educational and entrepreneurship capacities. WATERLINE will embed three distinct learning environments (LEs): the Emulative LE (ELE), the Assisted Reality LE (ARLE) and the Virtual LE (ViLE), in water education programmes in HEI to boost the skills of next generation researchers and practitioners.
Dr Lydia Vamvakeridou-Lyroudia, a Senior Research Fellow at the CWS, emphasises “WATERLINE will build upon the European Research Council Synergy Grant Water-Futures and the EPSRC WISE CDT to improve the learning experience and reinforce the professional knowledge and skills for future water experts. We will utilise the University of Exeter’s VSimulators facility and collaborate with Full Scale Dynamics in creating innovative applications to offer immersive learning environment.”
The second project, WATERVERSE (Water Data Management Ecosystem for Water Data Spaces), coordinated by the Centre for Research & Technology, Hellas (CERTH), will create data management practises that improve the useability and timeliness of data across all areas of water sector operations.
WATERVERSE will make data management practices and resources in the water sector accessible, affordable, secure, fair, and easy to use, by improving usability of data and the interoperability of data-intensive processes. The outcome will lower the entry barrier to data spaces, enhance the resilience of water utilities and boost the perceived value of data and therefore the market opportunities behind it.
Prof Slobodan Djordjevic, a co-director of the CWS, says “WATERVERSE will continue our successful collaborations with partners in the recent EU H2020 Fiware4Water and aqua3S projects, to accelerate digital transition in the European water sector.”
Project partner South West Water, through the Centre for Resilience in Environment, Water and Waste (CREWW) partnership with the University, will use this exciting project to support its recently published WaterFit strategy and the central theme of providing easily accessible real-time river water quality to better understand river health by 2023, with 100% monitor coverage at its treatment works and storm overflows.
Prof Richard Brazier, Director of CREWW, says “These two projects illustrate very clearly the strength of partnership working between the UoE and SWW, alongside other partners in bringing together world-leading scientists and engineers to solve some of the most pressing problems that face the water sector”.
The focus of SWW’s demonstration case will be on Combined Storm Overflow (CSO) data management, sharing near real-time CSO and river water quality information for residents and visitors in a meaningful way. The WATERVERSE project will not only help SWW to meet its WaterFit strategy commitments, but also to make significant progress towards the company’s Open Data strategy.