European funding worth millions for Bielefeld computer scientistSecure the supply of drinking water in the face of urban growth: Dr Barbara Hamm...

European funding worth millions for Bielefeld computer scientistSecure the supply of drinking water in the face of urban growth: Dr Barbara Hamm...European funding worth millions for Bielefeld computer scientist

Secure the supply of drinking water in the face of urban growth: Dr Barbara Hammer, professor of computer science from Bielefeld University, and three other European scientists will be exploring new technologies for this purpose. The European Research Council (ERC) is supporting the four scientists in their project Water-Futures with its Synergy Grant--one of the European Union's most prestigious research grants. For the next six years, the four researchers will receive a total of 10 million euros, 2.4 million euros of which will go to Bielefeld University.

In addition to Barbara Hammer, the research consortium comprises Dr Marios Polycarpou, professor of computer science from the University of Cyprus, Dr Phoebe Koundouri, professor of economics from the Greek University of Economics in Athens, and Dr Dragan Savic, professor of computer science from the Dutch water research institute KWR.

'Barbara Hammer and her three fellow academics have prevailed against strong competition with their project proposal. This is an impressive success and I extend my sincerest congratulations to Barbara Hammer,' says Professor Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector of Bielefeld University. This achievement shows that Barbara Hammer numbers among the internationally outstanding academics in her field of research, machine learning. Together with Marios Polycarpou, Phoebe Koundouri and Dragan Savic, she is focusing on a topic that is of vital importance for life in our cities. I am sure that by complementing each other's strengths, the four researchers will achieve far-reaching insights and solutions in the field of drinking water supply.'

Securing water infrastructure with controllable artificial intelligence

The full title of the project funded by the Synergy Grant is 'Smart Water Futures: Designing the Next Generation of Urban Drinking Water Systems'. The funding will run for six years from mid-2021. The four members of the consortium are exploring how the drinking water supply in cities can be secured reliably despite increasing water demand and are developing new technological methods for this purpose. 'Drinking water supply is a critical infrastructure on which the well-being of a city's people depends,' says Barbara Hammer. 'Water purification and distribution systems are complex networks. With our project, we want to ensure that they run smoothly--both in the short and long term.' Short-term operation may be affected by events such as the current Covid-19 pandemic. It leads to more water being used during the day in households where people are working from home and less in businesses. Long-term planning of water infrastructure depends, for instance, on how the number of inhabitants in a city develops, and is also influenced by climate change--for example, if drought summers occur more frequently, as in previous years.