Innovation

Conference of French Mayors and Municipalities: SUEZ wins the innovation award with its COVID-19 City Watch offer

On Thursday, November 26th at the Conference of French Mayors and Municipalities1, the jury for the Innovation Award rewarded SUEZ in the Energy and Ecological Transition category for its Covid-19 City Watch offer, which screens wastewater networks for SARS-CoV-2. Developed by the Group’s scientific and technical research teams, local authorities can use this innovative system to track the circulation of the virus in their areas and thereby better anticipate the health measures required at the district level and fight against the spread of the virus.

Each year, the Conference of French Mayors and Municipalities awards an Innovation Prize for innovative services, solutions, products, processes or equipment developed by providers of goods or services to local authorities. The jury is made up of specialist journalists and regional directors and in 2020 it awarded prizes in four different categories: Regional Development, Infrastructure and Transport, Community safety & living, and Energy and Ecological Transition.

This year, the SUEZ “Covid-19 City Watch” offer won the Innovation prize in the Energy and Ecological Transition category. This service, already operational in 15 local communities in Spain and currently deployed in France, and has proved its effectiveness by monitoring viral loads in wastewater, particularly upstream of vulnerable areas, high-risk or critical facilities (retirement homes, teaching institutions, etc.), as well as high-occupancy buildings.

“Covid-19 City Watch” is a fully-fledged tool that helps to guide local governments as they target measures in their districts. “Covid-19 City Watch” allows sources of contamination to be accurately identified and early measures to be taken to limit the impact of the pandemic and protect citizens’ health (restricting access, targeted individual testing programs).

It leverages scientific research, which has determined that the wastewater viral load is a useful lead indicator (2 to 3 days) of how the virus spreads within a population. The system warns of new outbreaks as soon as the contamination phase begins, regardless of the proportion of asymptomatic patients, thereby making it possible to target boosted protection measures (screening tests, social distancing campaigns including mask-wearing, etc.) or to limit access to certain sensitive establishments.

This initiative complements national surveillance networks currently under development and in particular the OBEPINE network in France2 which SUEZ is proud to be part of.

1 Salon des Maires et des Collectivités Locales (SMCL)

2 The OBEPINE consortium (OBservatoire EPIdémiologique daNs les Eaux usées [wastewater epidemilogical surveillance]) is funded by the Ministry for Higher Education, Research and Innovation, in partnership with the Université de Lorraine.

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