A Hybrid Data‐Driven‐Agent‐Based Modelling Framework for Water Distribution Systems Contamination Response during COVID‐19

Leonid Kadinski, Camilo Salcedo, Dominic L. Boccelli, Emily Berglund, Avi Ostfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Contamination events in water distribution systems (WDSs) are highly dangerous events in very vulnerable infrastructure where a quick response by water utility managers is indispensable. Various studies have explored methods to respond to water events and a variety of models have been developed to simulate the consequences and the reactions of all stakeholders involved. This study proposes a novel contamination response and recovery methodology using machine learning and knowledge of the topology and hydraulics of a water network inside of an agent‐based model (ABM). An artificial neural network (ANN) is trained to predict the possible source of the contamination in the network, and the knowledge of the WDS and the possible flow directions throughout a demand pattern is utilized to verify that prediction. The utility manager agent can place mobile sensor equipment to trace the contamination spread after identifying the source to identify endangered and safe places in the water network and communicate that information to the consumer agents through water advisories. The contamination status of the network is continuously updated, and the consumers reaction and decision making are determined by a fuzzy logic system considering their social background, recent stress factors based on findings throughout the COVID‐19 pandemic and their location in the network. The results indicate that the ANN‐based support tool, paired with knowledge of the network, provides a promising support tool for utility managers to identify the source of a possible water event. The optimization of the ANN and the methodology led to accuracies up to 80%, depending on the number of sensors and the prediction types. Furthermore, the specified water advisories according to the mobile sensor placement provide the consumer agents with information on the contamination spread and urges them to seek for help or support less.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1088
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 2022


  • COVID 19
  • agent‐based modelling
  • deep learning
  • fuzzy logic
  • machine learning
  • water distribution systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Aquatic Science
  • Biochemistry


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