An innovative project using technology and data looks set to transform how South East Water reduces leakage on its network.

A year-long trial focused on 2,000 properties in north Kent, using the latest sensor technology and analytics as well as utilising NBIoT, fixed radio and traditional cellular networks.

Its aim was to find out if the combined forces of nine specialist companies would create a smarter network and deliver leak reduction together with wider customer benefits.

The results are now being analysed but early indications are the project could help the company reach its ambitious leak reduction target. The pilot was the first time digital water meters, sensors and loggers have brought together data into one central area for advanced analysis, exploring artificial intelligence techniques.

It involved switching existing water meters – many put in as part of South East Water’s 10-year Customer Metering Programme – to digital meters, and adding loggers and sensors on the underground network which transmit data in near real time.

Head of Leakage Operations Jim MacIntyre said: “This was a pioneering project and we are very pleased with the results.

“During the trial the analytics system consolidated more than 25 million data points from various meters, loggers and sensors deployed across the network, transmitted by three different communication networks. This gave us insight into how the clustering of events on the network could be better interpreted to find and fix leaks quicker, as well as identifying customer side leaks much quicker.”

“This was in addition to integrating with other business critical systems to deliver insight and demonstrate potential for further opportunities in the areas of machine learning.”

South East Water, which supplies drinking water to 2.2 million customers across Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire, has met or exceeded its leakage targets for 12 consecutive years, but is keen to maintain its industry leading position through ongoing innovation.

The company is now considering the best way forward to use the technology and findings across its network.

Jim MacIntyre added: “The trial has given us hands-on experience in deploying and managing a smart water network and the insight from the trial has put the company in a strong position to evaluate a full range of options to deliver more benefits to our customers over the next five years and into the future.

“We would like to thank all our vendor partners who were very engaged to support the trial and look forward to the next chapter.”

The trial involves partnership working with ZTec, Xylem, Vodafone UK, Sensus, a Xylem brand, Syrinix, Visenti, a Xylem brand, Gutermann, Honeywell, Diehl, and ATi.

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