Data science for water management

A data engineer program to help water boards overcome data science challenges

Water boards in the Netherlands are increasingly seeking data-driven solutions to challenges in three key areas. Since the boards are not competitors, the one-year DEEP program enables their data scientists and engineers to collaborate on these issues, while simultaneously developing new skills.

The most pressing challenge is the need to find water management methods that can adapt to the changing climate, and help the Netherlands to cope with future rises in sea level. Data science can provide early insights and predictive modelling, to support better, more transparent decisions and control.

Water boards also have important assets and infrastructure, and data-driven techniques have the potential to bring improvements throughout the asset management cycle. For example, IoT sensors can help condition monitoring, while predictive maintenance can focus work where it’s needed most. Data can also inform decisions, like choices about asset replacement.

And finally, like everyone, water boards are under pressure to deliver their services in a more efficient and cost-effective way. Data scientists and engineers are looking for processes that can be automated, and potential energy savings that can reduce costs and environmental impacts.

DEEP at a glance

  • A collaborative program to build data skills in water boards

  • Addressing key challenges around climate, asset management, and efficiency

  • One-year educational program for data scientists and engineers

  • A network of data professionals, collaborating on water management issues

DEEP is super educational. But it’s not just about learning – the water boards will also experience that they can do much more with data.

Tobias Cadee

Trainee Data Engineer, Hoogheemraadschap van Schieland en de Krimpenerwaard

Attracting talent and developing skills

How the DEEP data science program attracts and educates tomorrow’s data engineers

DEEP is a one-year education program, focused on data science and data engineering. It’s designed to give data scientists and data engineers a solid base of relevant skills – whether they’re new to the industry, or experienced water management experts.

The process begins with recruitment and selection, identifying what makes a good data scientist or engineer, and attracting them to take part. There’s then a four-week, full-time data science program, followed by ten monthly bootcamps.

During the year, participants work on four assigned data science or engineering projects: two from their own water board, and two from another board on the program. At all times, they get technical assistance, guidance on processes, and one-to-one coaching from Royal HaskoningDHV.

Importantly, participants collaborate and build a network of likeminded data science professionals. This builds links between water boards, so they can continue to share ideas and work together on common issues for years to come.

Program manager Leonie Klaassen of Royal HaskoningDHV says: “Thanks to DEEP, a network of likeminded people has been created in the water board world who can find each other to work together on digital transformation. Each one likes working with data and they all want to make a social contribution.”

Advancing data science together

DEEP is growing, with benefits for water boards and data engineers alike

After the success of the first DEEP program, a second year-long program is now underway, with an increased number of water boards and candidates taking part.

The first year’s program concluded in September 2021, with positive outcomes for the participants, their employers, and the water sector as a whole. As well as bringing business and IT together to focus on concrete, real-world challenges, the network of data scientists and engineers are well placed to promote transformation.

Myriam Vlug of Het Waterschapshuis says: “DEEP challenges the water boards to concretize their digital transformation, to ask the right questions, and to secure knowledge in their organization. It’s a flywheel for the digital transformation; you can have nice strategies and visions, but DEEP makes it visible and tangible.”

Meanwhile, the program has also given Royal HaskoningDHV Digital a valuable, up-to-date insight into the digital challenges water boards face – enabling us to create better tailored solutions to meet their needs. We hope to run a third DEEP program in future.