CASE Barcelona

Language: EN / CT

Resilient and informative sewer systems using “sewer sociology”

Key innovations

  1. Deploy a lifestyle habits surveillance network
  2. mine lifestyle habits information from the chemical and microbiological analysis of sewage samples
  3. new data driven model for sewer system maintenance.


  • City planners
  • Public Health Agencies (design interventions to reduce inequalities)
  • City dwellers (overall lifestyle information)
  • Water boards (sewer system management).

Special focus
SDGs: 3, 10, 11, 12

Environmental protection: Reduction of discharges of untreated wastewater from sewer systems to receiving water bodies to comply with Water Framework Directive.

WHO initiatives for promoting healthier diets and decrease antibiotic resistance;

Market creation: Sensor and IoT solutions for lifestyle monitoring sewer network.

Public outreach: city dwellers, public health organizations, urban planners, researchers, companies in charge of managing wastewater collection and treatment systems.

Background: The city of Barcelona envisions their city to remain as a digital global benchmark by linking innovation to social and economic justice, solidarity, ethics and gender equality by promoting the interests of its citizens (“The Barcelona City Council Digital Plan”). Barcelona is part of the 100 resilient cities community (4) and is currently shaping its strategy to enhance resilience through the Climate Plan of Barcelona which has four strategic axes: (1) mitigation, (2) adaptation and resilience, (3) climate justice and (4) impulse to citizen action (5).

3 Wilkinson M. D. et al, "The FAIR Guiding Principles for scientific data management and stewardship", Scientific Data 3(2016), doi:10.1038/sdata.2016.18.

4 "100 Resilient Cities." Accessed 3 Sep. 2018.

5 "Barcelona pel Clima|Ajuntament de ...." Accessed 3 Sep. 2018.

Aim: The goal within SCOREwater is to innovate in the digitalization of water services, by demonstrating how sensing the sewer system of Barcelona can provide information at a neighbourhood scale on health status, dietary habits and waste management at households. This information will be used to: 1) reduce the discharge of antibiotics in the environment, 2) promote healthier dietary habits, and 3) prevent damaging discharges from households of wet wipes, oils and greases to the sewer system, 4) decrease sewer maintenance costs.

Approach: SCOREwater will be a proof of concept that sewer sociology can be applied to understand the habits of 3 neighbourhoods with differing socio-economic status in Barcelona. A sensor network, connected to the SCOREwater platform, will be deployed to monitor water flows (BCASA) and concentrations (SCAN and ICRA). Artificial intelligence based on machine learning will be conducted (EUT) to obtain indicators of wet wipes usage, oils and greases discharge to the sewer network, dietary habits and antibiotics consumption. The mined information will allow the identification of neighbourhoods that need intervention. Then, a series of interventions (surveys (IERMB), education campaigns and social-media) will be executed with the ultimate goal of source controlling bad lifestyle and health habits. A data driven model will also be developed which links citizens’ complaints on sewer-related problems with operators maintenance reporting.

A smart water management system for sewer systems management. A collection of good quality data on lifestyle habits of three communities in Barcelona. Education campaigns to raise public awareness about proper waste disposal at the households to prevent the clogging of sewers, and proper antibiotic consumption.

Innovation beyond the case: The case study of Barcelona will generate new products/services: i) a systematic manner for processing water quality and water quantity information to elucidate population habits; ii) extending existing water quality sensors to monitor oils and greases from domestic wastewater; iii) an innovative service to design health and environmental awareness campaigns; iv) a data driven model for sewer maintenance which uses citizen science.


Flyer Barcelona