Case Study

Smart Sanitation & Digital Water: Woodco

Woodco Renewable Energy Ltd. (Woodco) has developed a faecal sludge treatment solution customised to treat human waste. The solution can be operated completely off-grid, treating sludge from communities, reducing waste volume, and neutralising odours and pathogens. Woodco uses a combination of technologies to recover valuable resources from biogenic “waste” materials such as biochar—a safe, reusable, sustainable product that is beneficial for human health and the environment.

Under a “Space for Sanitation” project supported by the European Space Agency, Woodco is currently developing a smart sanitation management platform that harnesses the latest in Internet of Things and artificial intelligence technologies, and that incorporates space-based technologies that deliver Earth observation, satellite communications, and global navigation satellite system capabilities. The platform supports the collection and analysis of contextually complementary data modalities relating to toilet-user behaviour and health, sanitation management processes, and broader external environmental factors.

The main goal of the “Space for Sanitation” project is to provide an early-warning system for likely outbreaks of disease. By combining the data streams from a wide variety of terrestrial and space-based sensing technologies, the platform will deliver actionable insights including new ones not readily available from any single modality. As an example, the system can monitor the impact of illegal dumping of faecal sludge in water courses and the flow of waste and its interaction with the local environment and local populations.

The integration of satellite communications, coupled with the existing sludge treatment solution’s off-grid performance capability, supports the deployment of the overall sanitation solution, even in remote locations where there may be little or no terrestrial infrastructure.

Woodco artificial intelligence Kick-Start: Artificial Intelligence for Sanitation-Related Disease Prediction, Prevention and Management

Woodco is currently engaged in an artificial intelligence Kick-Start project, supported by the European Space Agency, that is exploring the feasibility of developing an edge-compute device for real-time pathogen detection in waterways. Wastewater analysis can significantly contribute to our understanding of the incidence and risk of disease in populations, caused by bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens related to human sanitation. Woodco envisages that a real-time pathogen detection capability will play a critical role in predicting new outbreaks of diseases such as COVID-19, and in tracking the evolution of an outbreak, as part of its broader sanitation management solutions.

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