Rotterdam: The Smart Delta City of the Future


Much ado has been made about smart grid energy management, but what about smart water management? IBM and the Netherlands city of Rotterdam are collaborating on a forecasting system for water and energy management. The dashboard-based system–the first of its kind–will collect and analyze real-time data on ocean, rivers, and weather, all in a move to make Rotterdam the first Smart Delta City.

IBM defines a Smart Delta City as one that “utilizes real-world, real-time operational information to manageinfrastructure and operations related to the effects of climate changein a dynamic, complex natural water system.” It sounds similar to the definition of a smart grid city–just replace “climate change” with “changing energy availability” and take out “natural water.” But instead of managing energy from diverse sources, Rotterdam will use its Smart Delta capabilities to evaluate flood and drought threats, safety issues, and changes in water conditions that could hurt fish. It’s helpful for a city that is largely below sea level, as climate change makes rising waters increasingly inevitable. If successful, the Smart Delta system could be invaluable to cities like New Orleans and Venice that also suffer the consequences of being below sea level, as well as coastal cities like New York that will likely face flooding in the future.

The Smart Delta City project is only a small part of IBM’s Smarter Cities project, which encompasses everything from smart trains to smart grids. Last year, IBM opened a Global Center of Excellence for Water Management in the Netherlands. It’s appropriate for a country that has already been so successful in water management–and one that will probably now guide the rest of us in water management.


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