Water Connects: from global data to local farmer

The  HydroNET Water Control Room provides online decisions support dashboards for operational and strategic water management. The innovative Water Control Room connects water managers in Swaziland by providing a platform to access and share water data. Local smallholder farmers connect to the platform with a mobile phone application that provides them with localized water and weather data for high yields. Forecasted releases from the dam support their plant and irrigation scheduling.

At a Glance

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About This Innovation

Innovation Stats

Funding Goal ($): 
Innovation Type: 
What phase of development is your innovation currently in?: 
Potential Lives Impacted: 
1,000,000
Actual Lives Impacted: 
1,000,000
Potential Lives Saved: 
1,000,000
Cost Per Unit ($): 
Where did you create your innovation?: 
Where have you implemented your innovation?: 
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Provide a status update for your Innovation.

The Water Control Room is built on the multiple award winning platform HydroNET (www.hydronet.com). HydroNET is a web-based decision support system which transfers terrabytes of weather and water data from satellites, radars, databases, gauges, the crowd into sophisticated applications and dashboards. The HydroNET Software as a Service (SaaS) solution empowers over 2600 water professionals worldwide to make well-informed and transparent decisions for the analysis and sustainable management of their water resources. The SaaS solution makes HydroNET very scalable and suitable for use in less developed countries, because the costs of maintaining the platform are shared by a large user base. In Swaziland a successful feasibility study has performed with HydroNET. Water managers were provided with real-time access to weather forecasts data and historical rainfall time series from satellites and weather stations to improve water system operations. For water management in Swaziland it is also important that the right governance structure is established. The REMCO partnership is the first step towards achieving transboundary cooperation, where the international Inkomati and Maputo river basins are represented by stakeholders from Swaziland, South Africa and Mozambique.

How does your innovation work?

Core of the innovation is that data is made available for all stakeholders in the value chain. Data is automatically translated in easy to understand decision support information for the water manager and farmer. These stakeholders will get access to global data sources, but will also be able to share their local data sources. All available data will be combined and processed to create added value information per user.  The Water Control Room allows each individual stakeholder to make personalized dashboards, so they always have the information they need to make a decision at their fingertips. The platform is stored in the cloud and therefore no software installation or expensive hardware expenses are required . This also makes it a very scalable solution. In addition, the connection between stakeholders will be strengthened by training of the stakeholders according to the “train the trainer” principle. SWADE will train the Water usage district, who will train the Farmer Associations representatives, who will train the farmers. This chain approach will create a large and sustainable nnetwork and fast uptake of the products.

What Evidence do you have that your Innovation works?

In 2016, a feasibility pilot has been implemented through this partnership with very promising results and there is now need to upscale and further develop this decision support system that can really make a difference for Swaziland. The aim of the HydroNET Water Control Room is to provide intelligent solutions and online decisions support dashboards for operational and strategic water management. In South Africa HydroNET is also used to provide applications for 125.000 small holder farmers.

The HydroNET platform is used in more than 10 countries and over 2500 water professionals already benefit from the solutions it offers. HydroNET has won several awards, the most recently being the prestigious Partner for Water award 2017,  together with a South African consortium.  The HydroNET Water Control Room was described by the jury as providing a measurable contribution to solving world-water problems. Over 80 other international project competed for this award.  

Do you have current users or testers?

Yes.  Swaziland Government, Swaziland Metoffice, Kobwa, SWADE, Swaziland River Basin Authorities, Dutch Water Authorities and REMCO partners. 

The HydroNET platform is used in 10 other countries. In, for example, South Africa alone over 25 organisations are currently using the HydroNET Water Control Room. 

What is your strategy for expanding use of your innovation?

On the short term we will develop the Water Control Room for SWADE managed areas, the Inkomati and Usuthu river basins in Swaziland. If the Water Control Room works well for these areas, we will scale up and link with River Basin Authorities to reach the whole of Inkomati and Usuthu basin. On the long term the Water Control Room will be rolled out to other countries like South Africa and Mozambique and become a transboundary decision support tool. The Water Control Room can also be applied in other transboundary river basins.

Next Steps

Most important step for the Water Control Room innovation to grow is access to funding. The basis is there, the HydroNET platform exists and we have created the organizational structure. However, the initial investment to make it work for the water authorities and farmers it too large. Therefore, we need funding. If funding is in place and a first version of the Water Control Room is operational we will apply a charging model for end users to ensure the sustainability of the platform. Farmers and other stakeholders can be charged for ordering water. Also other value added applications can be developed on the platform, which can be provided under a subscription to partners that need information on water. Upscaling will be the final step in the process and also further ensure sustainability of the control room.

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An award winning innovation.