Dr Riccardo Taormina is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Water Management of Delft University of Technology (TU Delft). He holds a BSc and an MSc in Environmental Engineering from Politecnico di Torino, and a PhD degree in Civil Engineering from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Prior to joining TU Delft, Dr Taormina worked as a Postdoc at the iTrust Center for Research in Cyber Security in Singapore. He has over 10 years of experience in using Machine Learning and Deep Learning methods to solve water management issues, with applications across the natural and urban water cycles. He leads AIdroLab, TU Delft’s lab for AI research in sustainable water management. Since 2019, Dr Taormina teaches data science, applied machine learning and Python programming skills.

What excites you the most about being part of the BLUE PLANET Berlin Water Dialogues advisory board?

The BLUE PLANET Berlin Water Dialogues Advisory Board brings together an excellent mix of industry experts, public stakeholders, researchers and academics. I believe that the big water challenges of the future can only be addressed by bringing these diverse communities together and fostering dialogue. As an academic in the field of water resources, I feel compelled to stay away from the metaphorical „ivory tower“. Being part of this advisory board will help me focus my research on addressing real problems, hopefully in collaboration with the public and private sectors. This experience will also benefit my role as a teacher, as a thorough knowledge of the water sector and its challenges is necessary to prepare future generations of water engineers.

What’s your contribution to BLUE PLANET?

I am the co-director of AIdroLab, TU Delft’s lab for artificial intelligence research in water management. At AIdroLab we focus on developing new methods based on Deep Learning to model urban water networks and predict flooding events. Through collaborations with other academics and industry partners, we also develop Deep Learning methods for the broad water cycle, such as automated monitoring of plastic pollution in freshwater environments, streamflow forecasting, and rainfall nowcasting. I also pursue research in the emerging field of cyber-physical security of water infrastructure, mainly for drinking water distribution systems. My main contributions to the BLUE PLANET advisory board will thus reflect my expertise with the pros and (main) cons of the digitalization of the water sector. As such, I aim to help organizing sessions and panel discussions on digital water, machine learning, and cyber-security. I hope to contribute also by sharing the results of my research on these topics, or some related developments in education.

What can people expect from the next BLUE PLANET?

I expect the BLUE PLANET Berlin Water Dialogues in November 2022 to focus on AI for solving critical water-related challenges. Attendants will have the chance to get in-depth knowledge on specific applications, like AI-based solutions for flood management, while familiarizing with general issues concerning AI and its utilization. Along with the exploration of concrete examples of successful AI applications, I expect interesting discussions aimed at creating a common understanding on what is AI, and what it can do for the water sector beyond the hype. Participants may also expect sessions bridging research and practice where to discuss the state-of-the-art of both fields, or how to enhance the collaboration between these two worlds. Lastly, I would be happy to attend discussion concerning the trustworthiness of AI solutions for the water sector, a key attribute for intelligent systems whose operations affect the safety, security and well-being of communities.