Fetching and cleaning their own water, surveying drainage channels, hikes up mountains – all along with training sessions. Our EJWP1 participants completed the programme with a memorable final Training Week in Norway. They also shared the outcomes and water-sector applications of their project “Mapping the Complex Ecosystem of AQUA alarm.”
EJWP1 participant Martha Gjermo with AQUA alarm shared highlights of the project and hosting the Training Week with her organization:
What are some outcomes of the EJWP project that can be applied in the water sector?
We got a good understanding of how people in different organizations and areas of expertise perceive situations in their waterworks, with inputs on pitfalls and how to avoid them. The project was invaluable in that it confirmed our understanding of the water sector and its complex ecosystem, as well as the value of our novel sensing technology and AI-based solutions for water utilities. We also gained some valuable connections with the participants for future knowledge sharing.
Has the project provided useful information towards goals of your organization?For us the main outcome was the insights we got from the participants and from a questionnaire that was sent within the water sector. There are different views on how drinking water should be managed, as well as on how securely water quality is managed today. The ability and willingness to invest in new technologies was also investigated, including consideration of the benefits of digitalization. As an SME, the EJWP network, and insights into various organisations throughout the water sector, have provided better access to and positioning in the market we are entering with our technology.
What is the value of collaboration with other water organizations in Europe on projects like these?
We learnt in detail about different markets and water providers, how they work, and what are regional and general problems. This gives us a far better understanding of the general market that we are targeting with our technology.
What were some of the key activities of the Training Week?
We got to feel the value of water through training activities and the daily life at the cabin, in which all water was fetched from a well and boiled before drinking. On the first day, we walked uphill and worked to ensure that a drainage channel for excess water in the field was clear; this helps prevent erosion during heavy rains in the fall season. Later in the week, we had a workshop on our project findings, a hike up the nearest mountain, several personal training sessions, and a big bonfire dinner.
What more can you say about EJWP and the value of collaboration of young European water professionals?
As a young co-founder of a tech company, it has been valuable to be a part of this programme and to be given the opportunity to develop both myself professionally and my knowledge of the European water sector market. Also, the connections and friendships that from this programme are invaluable on many levels. Hopefully we can continue to inspire each other and make a difference together with our combined knowledge long after the programme has finished.
Our EJWP1 participants are looking forward to their next adventure. In the week of 25 October, they will meet in rural Hardanger, Norway, for their final Training Week, hosted by AQUA alarm. Have two years of projects, co-creation, network building and development really passed so quickly? We are getting ready for this momentous training week, and for the future contributions of our first group to the water sector.
EJWP1 participant Martha Gjermo, a Business Developer with AQUA alarm, provided a preview of what our first group can expect in their surroundings and reflections in their final training week of the programme.
What do you expect for the week with your EJWP colleagues in Norway?
Our organization really looks forward to meeting and sharing ideas with my EJWP colleagues, and of course we are also happy to show a little piece of Norwegian cabin-culture, and the Norwegian “kos.” We hope that a week together in a small but spectacular place, surrounded by mountains and water, can help generate nice new reflections and ideas, and that we will learn new things about ourselves and each other.
We have also chosen a location without tap-water, so we will need to carry all the water that we will use this week, and boil the water we want to drink. Running water is something many people take for granted, and it will be something good already if providing our own water will help us view our work with a new edge.
Can you give a preview of what is planned?
We have the final results of our AQUA alarm project to present and discuss on water sensors and related technical solutions – how far have they come in their readiness for solutions, while better understanding applications in water networks throughout Europe. In the cabin, we will continue to brainstorm on new angles and possibilities to carry our results forward to benefit the water sector.
The plan is to use cabin as a base, and most of our trainings and workshops will happen there inside if it rains, and outside by the seaside if the weather is nice. Our trainer is prepared to do a training on the move, so we hope the weather will be good enough one day for everyone to hike up a nearby mountain. It will be a steep and heavy walk, so we could use the breaks to reset our focus on the way up. I’m pretty certain this will bring us out of our comfort zones mentally and physically.
We plan to make dinners at a bonfire by the seaside in the evenings, playing team-building games in at the cabin after training. And swimming will be about the only option for those who feel they need a shower. Reconnecting as a an EJWP group will be nice after a long time without being able to see each other in person because of the pandemic.
What are your hopes for the future from activities like these training weeks?
I hope that by meeting and discussing new ideas, problems, solutions and reflections that we make together we can investigate and develop ways to solve the ongoing water crises spurred by environmental change. Our EJWP project made me think of possible applications with AQUA alarm for safe drinking water in existing networks: for example, in a closed loop system to reuse water for fabrics and other industries. It would be great if results of our project and AQUA alarm could be a part of this through further investigation.
I really hope to be a part of bigger future solutions, and I know my EJWP colleagues do too. By meeting internationally from different countries, backgrounds and educations, we can learn so much from each other and bring inspiration and new knowledge with us “home” to where we normally work. Hopefully we will continue to meet and learn from each other long after this programme has ended.