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MA: Development of a Cyber-Physical Testbed to Optimize Water Networks

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 are 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 control and real-time optimization strategies that are robust to communication failures and demand prediction uncertainties. For this, the development of cyber-physical models that enable extensive simulation of infrastructures, demand, communication, control and optimization strategies 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 iteratively develop and test new solutions effectively in a fail-safe environment.

The goal of master theses in this area is developing prototypes of cyber-physical testbed models to simulate and optimize digital water networks, integrating (i) options to generate models of water networks, (ii) demand scenarios in the terminal nodes of the network and (iii) models of distributed computing infrastructures. While this opens up opportunities for a wide range of water- and IT-related applications, within this project we want to focus on distributed communication and analysis of continuous sensor data, and, specifically, explore and assess different architectures and deployments of distributed data analytic solutions (e.g. centralized analytics vs. decentralized, also using edge resources) as a basis for water network management and operation 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.

This is a joint proposition together with Prof. Andrea Cominola, who recently joined TU Berlin and the ECDF. Therefore, theses in this area will be in English.

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

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Lauritz Thamsen
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