The Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA), the Eurecat technology centre, the Barcelona Institute of Regional and Metropolitan Studies (IERMB) Consortium, s::can Iberia (a small-scale manufacturer of online sensors) and Barcelona Ciclo del Agua (BCASA, the public water-utility provider) are all taking part in SCOREwater, a European project that aims to contribute to digital transformation in the water industry through the provision of different case studies. One of these case studies is to focus on Barcelona, where AI and Big Data are to be applied in order to generate information regarding the behaviour of different neighbourhoods.

The SCOREwater project is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme and represents a further step towards the digitalization of the water industry, with the overall aim of accelerating the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The project was launched in May of this year and will run for four years. It has a budget of 5.8 million euros and will require the creation of three so-called “living labs” in the cities of Barcelona, Gothenburg (Sweden) and Amersfoort (Holland).

The “living lab” in Barcelona will enable the generation of objective and immediate information regarding the behaviour of different neighbourhoods. For example, it will provide data on the waste-management habits of residential areas, including the adequacy of the management of waste oils and fats and wet-wipes, along with data on the consumption of pharmaceutical products such as antibiotics. The information will be obtained from chemical, microbiological and flow analyses of the waste water in the sewer system, and through the use of AI and Big Data.

This pioneering approach, colloquially known as “sewage sociology”, will play a key role in the near future in the design of campaigns to raise awareness among citizens of how to manage household waste and adopt healthy habits. It will also enable the effectiveness of these campaigns to be monitored. Additionally, the managers of the sewer network will be equipped with a new tool for preventive maintenance, as a result of which they will be able to provide a better service to citizens.