Expert water management in Amsterdam

Dutch water management is unparalleled. Over the centuries, to keep their feet dry in a delta region mainly below sea level, the Dutch have become experts in constructing water defences to withstand floods. At the same time, they've used water to overcome many disadvantages. With 'poldering' they created new farmland, while irrigation channels made poor land fertile. On top of this, all that water inside and outside the dikes needed to be filtered and regulated.

The whole complex underpinned the creation of the first democratic structures in the region: centuries before the Netherlands' state model was developed, there was already water management.

National expertise

According to Djeevan Schiferli, this national expertise was an important factor in choosing a location for the IBM Global Center of Excellence for Water Management. "Nowhere is the water sector so broad and of such high quality as in the Netherlands," says this specialist in the field of climate control issues. "At IBM, we've already determined that the water market will be the growth market of the future. Worldwide the demand for better management and risk systems will increase enormously, as will demand for solutions to improve the quality of water and, for example, to make drinking water out of salt water. "

"As the world's largest advisory organisation, we must therefore be located near to the source of the most promising new developments and applications. And that's the Netherlands. Nowhere else in the world do you find such a large variety of market players and institutions who are all directly or indirectly occupied with water. That makes swapping ideas and inspiration so much simpler."

Pioneering pride

IBM now believes in the strength of an open innovation model. "Our most important objective is to build as many partnerships as we can with companies and knowledge institutions. Together, we can then look at how to create an effective competitive edge," explains Schiferli. "And this brings us to another advantage of being located here. Not only is everyone just an hour or so away, but the culture of enterprise is directed towards cooperation and sharing knowledge and networks." 

In its first year, the IBM Global Center of Excellence for Water Management is still mapping the many possibilities of the water market. Provisionally, it has been decided to focus on integrating forecasting and security software for high-risk areas. That means everything from forecasting models for tsunamis and other extreme weather conditions, to systems for safeguarding dikes or monitoring tides, and software for planning massive evacuation operations. It's pioneering stuff. "And that make us more than a little bit proud," says Schiferli.

Read full testimonial here.