Jump directly to main navigation Jump directly to content Jump to sub navigation

The Digital River Twin is taking shape: Drone measurement campaign on the Emscheroberlauf

Another step towards a Digital River Twin for the Emscheroberlauf has been taken, supported by drones. A measurement campaign using a drone as a mobile sensor-data-application to collect essential water quality parameters was successfully carried out.

The challenges in managing our water bodies are becoming increasingly complex. To improve the ecological state of our water bodies and address the effects of climate change, rapid action is essential. The Digital River Twin promises a holistic, sustainable water management approach that can better handle dynamic changes and create resilient water bodies. On behalf of the Emschergenossenschaft and Lippeverband (EGLV), the FiW is working on developing a prototype of the Digital River Twin for the Emscheroberlauf. An important part of this effort involves the use of drones as a mobile sensor-data-application, carried out in collaboration with our partner Orthodrone.

Digital twins are revolutionizing how we monitor and manage water bodies. Thus far, they have mainly been used in the field of technical facilities, but we believe their potential goes much further. The FiW is applying this concept to water bodies to provide a comprehensive representation of the water system for forward-looking water management. On behalf of the Emschergenossenschaft, we are working on a Minimum-Viable-Product for a Digital River Twin for the Emscheroberlauf. The Emscher has been completely sewage-free since the turn of 2021/2022, but it is still heavily influenced by combined sewer overflows and the discharge of the Dortmund-Deusen sewage treatment plant. Therefore, this water body section offers great potential for implementing sustainable management approaches.

The Digital River Twin will be a modular system consisting of sensors, IT infrastructure and water quality modeling, continually enhancing our process understanding and supporting predictions and decisions. It includes the natural (water) system and its underlying process and system understanding as a physical unit. The core of the digital unit is a water quality model that receives automated and continuous input data from the physical unit, allowing for ongoing adjustment, improvement, and expansion.

We are starting with the use of drones as a mobile sensor-data-application in conjunction with a water quality model. Drones offer a unique perspective on water bodies, enabling the collection of data from the air that is essential for evaluating water quality and other key parameters. The data collected by drones will go into the model and serve as the basis for data-driven decisions (data-on-demand). Based on the model results, new drone missions optimized for specific management questions will be initiated. The FiW is responsible for the development of the river twin concept, the integration of measurement data, and the development of automated analysis routines.

The measurement campaign conducted in collaboration with project partner Orthodrone was a critical step in this process. Using a specially adapted drone, Orthodrone took water samples in the Emscheroberlauf and measured key parameters such as water temperature, conductivity, pH value and oxygen content with a multiparameter probe. A fixed measurement station in the Emscher provides continuous data for verification and validation of the data collected by the drone.

Additionally, the capture of photogrammetric and LiDAR data is planned to further improve the water quality model. For example, this will enable the assessment of macrophyte coverage and provide an even more accurate picture of the water system and its shoreline structure. We are confident that Digital River Twins will make a significant contribution to sustainable water management in the future.