Improving the safety and security of water networks

Water Safety & Security: what are the challenges?


Access to safe drinking-water is essential for human wellbeing. As a result, water systems have become attractive targets for political or military attack, as there is no substitute for water. This is particularly dangerous because unsafe water or lack of access to water can have significant adverse consequences for populations, for example, the spread of disease, pollution of the environment and violent competition for available resources.

Improving water security


How can we improve the safety and security of water networks, and ensure they are able to respond to dynamic threats?


The aqua3S project will standardise existing technologies and develop state-of-the-art detection mechanisms to tackle water-related crises in a timely manner, using:


  • Sensors installed within water supply networks, which detect anomalous substances
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), which gather data to forecast natural hazards that may affect water quality
  • Satellite images that detect and locate potentially harmful substances in existing water networks
  • Social media observation from citizens reporting low-quality water (e.g., by colorization), which may help to identify compromised water sources


These solutions will be deployed and tested across a number of locations including four metropolitan cities: Brussels, Paris, Sofia and Thessaloniki, as well as smaller rural municipalities in Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Italy.

Ethical, legal and privacy impact assessment to ensure sustainable innovation


Trilateral assesses the ethical, legal, and data protection issues that need to be considered in the development of the aqua3S system and for the ongoing compliance of the project.

Trilateral considers potential risks of data collection from multiple sensors and areas by using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and satellite images. Trilateral identifies the measures needed to respect privacy, ethical and social considerations to avoid unwanted negative impact to societal values or risks to fundamental rights.

Policy advice


Following the creation of the aqua3S system, Trilateral generates policy recommendations to improve water security and management.

Trilateral will deliver a report entitled “Guidance for responsible applications of water security standards and policy”. This report will provide guidance for responsible impact and applications of any proposed standards or policy in order to facilitate agile and appropriate responses to water insecurity.

For more information and updated please visit the project website and follow us on twitter and LinkedIn.

AQUA3S has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 832876.

Peter Wieltschnig, Research Analyst at Trilateral Research

‘Risk Assessment Report and Methodology’

You can view the Executive Summary and Table of contents of the Project Solebay Risk Assessment Methodology Report.

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