Innovation festival reveals leakage and data opportunities

  • Research


An innovation festival hosted by Northumbrian Water Group in the north of England identified opportunities for breakthroughs on tackling leakage.

The festival included a hackathon led by NWG and Microsoft and held over two days in July, during which teams worked on 4.5GB of data from sources such as current leakage information, road traffic statistics, and Second World War bombing records.

The winning team to emerge from the 60 data scientists competing was made up of experts from PA Consulting Group. Competitors had to develop improved data methods for identifying and predicting leaks in order to support maintenance and replacement. They had to focus on targeting emerging leaks, improving the efficiency of the repair process, and developing ways to support decision making.

NWG includes Essex & Suffolk Water, serving eastern England. According to NWG, the hackathon showed that by focusing on 20 out of the 450 operational zones in the county of Essex, increases in leakage could be significantly slowed. According to NWG, it could achieve the leakage targets set by industry regulator Ofwat by expanding the focus to 50 zones. It added that these results could form a basis for other water companies to identify areas to focus upon.

The innovation week also included a ‘sprint’ to apply leading design thinking to the issue of leakage. Around 50 people took part over five days.

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  • UK, Northumbrian Water Group, PA Consulting, water supply, leakage