15 jul 2020

By using each other's data and models, water professionals can do their work even better and accelerate the formulation and implementation of water policy. That is the conclusion of the so-called Watercloud Vision, which was drawn up by a consortium of parties from the Dutch water sector, led by Royal HaskoningDHV, on behalf of Rijkswaterstaat which is part of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management.

The consortium has investigated whether the use of cloud technology in the sharing of data and models is possible and a logical next step, in order to strengthen cooperation between water professionals. Companies from the consultancy and ICT sector were also consulted.

Unique combination of expertise

The consortium had a unique combination of fields of expertise that was needed to answer this question properly: Royal HaskoningDHV's knowledge of hydrology and water management, information management and digital solutions; Technolution's knowledge of complex applications, software integrations and communication standards; knowledge of water management and hydrological modeling by Sweco and expertise in data storage, application and model software from VORtech. In addition, the consortium also had the essential knowledge of the required cloud technology and its governance.

Hydrologists from water authorities, Rijkswaterstaat and Deltares – an independent research institute for applied research in the field of water and subsurface – took part in the working sessions on the user functionality of the Watercloud. Program managers of existing partnerships were involved in reflecting on the embedding and governance of the Watercloud in the bigger scheme of cooperation within the Dutch water management sector.

Promising for the entire water sector

Based on this research, the participating parties concluded that having one specific online collaboration platform is promising for the entire water sector. The functionalities that this platform should offer must be adapted to the challenges that hydrologists and water management consultants experience in their current work, such as finding the right data and the availability of all kinds of models and tools that are needed for modeling.

In the next phase, the connection will be made with Digishape, where partners in the golden triangle under the flag of the Water & Maritime top sector want to set up a use case on multi-clouds. In addition, the Netherlands Hydrological Instrument (NHI) will be involved to explore the next steps. The management of the follow-up will therefore probably shift more to the Digishape consortium in which Rijkswaterstaat participates.

Modern collaboration platform

Rijkswaterstaat and the consortium partners are proud of the Watercloud Vision developed. A development roadmap, embedding the Watercloud in relation to all existing collaborations in the Dutch water sector, governance and the business case: everything has been given a place in the vision. The Watercloud vision has been designed with the latest multi-cloud architecture, tooling and standards in mind to create a modern online collaboration platform for the entire water sector.

Accessibility of reliable data and models of great importance

According to Rolf van den Hoek, Rijkswaterstaat, the accessibility, openness and uniformity of water models and reliable data are extremely important for water managers, administrators and other stakeholders. “By leveraging new digital capabilities, we expect the Watercloud to improve the resilience of the Dutch water system as a whole and stimulate collaboration - we look forward to exploring the next steps with our stakeholders and partners as the initial investigation has been completed. ” The proposed functionality of Watercloud contributes to the administrative and policy goals of the Administrative Agreement on Water and the Management Plan for National Waters (BPRW) with regard to data sharing and the development of modern and reusable data-driven solutions. This gives an impulse to the digital transformation of the Dutch water sector.

Aris Witteborg, Leading Professional Digital Smart Water at Royal HaskoningDHV adds: “We expect the importance of the Watercloud Vision to go far beyond making the current hydrological processes more efficient. We think that in the coming years much higher demands will be made on the way hydrological modeling is handled, due to the far-reaching impact that climate change will have on the development of the living environment in The Netherlands. In that context, the Watercloud Vision could be a crucial tool. ”