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Barriers and enabling factors for digitalisation in the Swedish water sector

Objective
 Our objective is to understand the digital innovation gap in the Swedish Water and Sewerage sector in order to increase the speed of digital transformation of the sector.

Specifically, our goals are to:

  • determine and assess structural, institutional or capacity-related barriers at the sector level;
  • identify enabling factors for adopting ICT and Digitalisation in municipal infrastructure asset management specifically applied to water and sewerage.

Background
Information-driven decision-making for asset management and maintenance of water infrastructure holds great potential for efficiency gains. Yet, the uptake of digital innovations appears to be slow compared to other sectors.  As large-scale water infrastructures are exposed to transformation pressure from ageing assets, demography, societal digitalisation, security risks and resource scarcity, identifying the innovation barriers – but also enabling factors – will be crucial. Our findings will also be relevant for other infrastructure-oriented organisations yet to make the digital leap.

Our approach is interdisciplinary and based on the social sciences and humanities, with an orientation towards the field of science and technology studies (STS). Method-wise, we use a case study approach, focusing on contemporary and recent historical cases of innovation in ICT and digital technologies in the sector. With this approach, we can analyse long-term sector experience of innovation and change.

Photo credit: Horst Gutmann, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/#

Crossdisciplinary collaboration
Our team of researchers covers engineering, industrial dynamics, STS and history (PI, Co-PI and a post-doc researcher). We collaborate with a range of industrial and societal actors in this project, notably with DHI Sverige AB, Kungsbacka kommun, and Kommunalförbundet Norrvatten.

Contacts

Pär Blomkvist

Senior Lecturer, Mälardalen University, Co-PI of project: Barriers and enabling factors for digitalisation in the Swedish water sector

par.blomkvist@mdu.se