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IBM helps keep the Netherlands above water

Posting in Cities

IBM's "Digital Delta' will help manage and visualize data for flood control in the Netherlands

Government authorities and universities in the Netherlands have selected IBM to build a big data driven water management system for better flood control.

IBM will deploy a data analytics and business intelligence "dashboarding" solution to help combine, process and visualize data from multiple organizations that collectively have comprehensive but very disparate resources that monitor flood conditions. Each organization will use it to fulfill a specialized role.

The Dutch Ministry for Water, a local water authority, Deltares Science Institute, the University of Delft all serve a common purpose: protecting a population with more than half of its people living in flood prone areas from extreme events. It costs 7 billion each year to manage flooding and costs are expected to increase €1- 2 billion by 2020, IBM said in a press release that was issued today.

Existing systems incorporate precipitation measurement, water level and water quality monitors, levee sensors, radar data, model predictions as well as current and historic maintenance data from water infrastructure (dams, locks, sluices, etc.), IBM says. Its project, codenamed "Digital Delta" gets that information in sync and makes it easier to uncover useful new findings from all of that data.

"Aggregating, integrating and analyzing data on weather conditions, tides, levee integrity, run off and more, will provide the Dutch government with detailed information that better prepares it to protect Dutch citizens and business, as well as homes, livestock and infrastructure," said Jan Hendrik Dronkers, director general of the water ministry. "As flooding is an increasing problem in many regions of the world, we hope that the Digital Delta project can serve as a replicable solution for better water management anywhere in the world."

Water management falls under the auspices of IBM's "Smarter Cities" initiative. Big Blue views contemporary issues such as air pollution, credit fraud, energy, food, traffic, and water as strategic business opportunities for its future growth. IBM revealed its strategy for monetizing those challenges during its centennial exhibition called "Think" on the grounds of New York's Lincoln Center in 2011.

An unrelated Dutch project called the "sand engine," sponsored by a consortium of industries, researchers, and public agencies called Building with Nature, is focusing on using natural systems for hydraulic engineering. It's an alternative to dredging that replenishes beaches that are impacted by erosion.

(Image credit: IBM)

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— By on June 25, 2013, 2:03 PM PST

David Worthington

Contributing Editor

David Worthington has written for BetaNews, eWeek, PC World, Technologizer and ZDNet. Formerly, he was a senior editor at SD Times. He holds a business degree from Temple University. He is based in New York. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure