The WBE-COVID project – “A new wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) system to track COVID-19” –  consists in the development of an innovative integrated system for monitoring sewage networks and epidemiological surveillance based on wastewater analysis, with particular reference to the identification and quantification of SARS-CoV-2.

WBE-COVID involves the development of innovative methods and devices, new sampling and analysis protocols, AI algorithms, for the creation of a decision support system (DSS) for the prevention and management of epidemiological emergencies.
More generally, the monitoring system will allow the monitoring of sewage networks aimed at assessing the state of health of the population by measuring and analyzing network parameters and chemical indicators.

The project involves the development of wastewater sampling methods for analysis – including detection of SARS-CoV-2 – and, therefore, of specific sampling and analysis protocols aimed at identifying the correlations between the measured parameters and the health status of the population.
In particular, new protocols will be defined, aimed at guaranteeing the traceability of the measurements and the replicability of the method, and new algorithms will be developed to define the monitoring network and analyze the data. Intelligent technologies and innovative algorithms will be used to identify the optimal positioning of measuring instruments, based on dynamic criteria that will be developed with flexible optimization algorithms. The optimization methods will be based on quantum mechanical principles, with models allowing to find solutions faster than other techniques, or to find a higher quality solution for a fixed problem and a fixed period of time, or to use a model more realistic than other techniques by extending the problem to consider more variables.

WBE-COVID also provides for the design of efficient low-cost monitoring stations capable of communicating in real time with the monitoring system, which indeed involves the use of samplers and sensors distributed in the sewer network.
Tests will be carried out for network setting and verification of the characteristics of samplers and sensors, and the PoC of the monitoring network will be created.
A DSS will therefore be created, consisting of a digital platform in the cloud, which will integrate algorithms and intelligent devices, for monitoring the spread of diseases on a large scale.
New knowledge will be developed on the use of AI to study the spread of large-scale diseases. The results of the project will therefore have long-lasting effects even after the COVID-19 emergency. The characterization of the networks, the monitoring of the state of health and the detection of pathologies are aspects of considerable importance for the cross-border territory concerned, which can lead to an increase in the competitiveness of companies.

WBE-COVID was co-funded in the context of  “Interreg V-A Italia-Svizzera 2014 – 2020”.