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MA: Cyber-Physical Testbed for Urban Water Networks

This is a joint proposition together with Prof. Andrea Cominola, who recently joined TU Berlin and the ECDF

Digitalization is disrupting several industry sectors with the use of sensors and ICT technology. While the water sector has been conservative and slow to change, large-scale deployment of digital technologies is expected to radically change water distribution paradigms in the next years. Among the challenges that need to be addressed for a proper management of future water networks, the IEEE Control System Society identified the need to develop real-time control and optimization strategies that are robust to communication failures and prediction uncertainties. For this, the development of cyber-physical models that enable extensive simulation of infrastructures, communication, resources, and load/demand in a controlled environment and before large-scale, real-world deployment of digital technologies in the critical physical infrastructures is key to being able to develop and test new solutions in a fail-safe environment.

The goal of master theses in this area is developing prototypes of cyber-physical testbeds to simulate and optimize water networks, integrating (i) options to generate models of water networks, (ii) demand scenarios in the terminal nodes of the network as well as (iii) models of distributed computing infrastructures. While this opens up opportunities for a wide range of applications, within this project we want to focus on distributed communication and processing of continuous sensor data, and, specifically, explore and assess different architectures and deployments of distributed data processing systems (e.g. centralized analytics vs. decentralized, using device/edge/fog resources) for urban water network operation and maintenance with reduced costs, higher resiliency, and optimized supply of the critical, limited resource water.


  • Literature review of the state of the art on physical and software models to simulate urban water networks, accounting for highly spatial and temporal resolution of water demand, as well as applications of distributed analytics for smart water grids.
  • Identification and definition of the hardware/software requirements for the development of cyber-physical testbed models.
  • Development of a prototype of a cyber-physical testbed model for the simulation of smart water networks with realistic demand scenarios and distributed computing resources.
  • Exploration of different architectures for distributed data analytics to inform network management and utility operations.
  • Analysis, discussion, and presentation of the results.

If this sounds interesting to you, please send us an email with a little bit of your background, so we can find a concrete topic with the scope of a master thesis that matches your interests and skills. 

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Lauritz Thamsen
+49 (30) 314-24539
Room TEL 1210