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Big data intelligence to drive forward customer service

Yorkshire Water is embarking on a data-led “internet of things” approach that will enable it to obtain real-time information and understand trends about its water and sewerage operations.

Intelligence on the condition of the firms water pipes will enable the company to adopt a predict and prevent approach to maintenance of its 31,000km of water mains.

To help predict where and when things are going to happen on its network, 15,000 ‘acoustic ear’ devices will be installed into the pipes capable of listening to the noise flowing water makes.

Data generated by this technology will then be analysed by a new team of data scientists, based at the company’s Bradford based control room.

It is expected by the firm that this data rich intelligence will make early interventions possible to ensure customers’ water supplies are disrupted as little as possible.

Steve Mallinson, Networks & Grid Optimiser at Yorkshire Water said: “We’ve created a bespoke system that allows us to really understand the water patterns in our pipes throughout Yorkshire. It will give us a vast amount of intelligent data that can be analysed to help control the flow of water and prevent bursts and leaks happening. It will also help us to try and repair any issues within just three hours, rather than the current average of three days.”

Yorkshire Water will also be installing 8,000 similar devices into its sewers to better understand how its waste water network operates, with triggers and alarms fitted to help protect the environment and customers from sewer flooding.

In what is believed to be a first in the water industry, Yorkshire Water is considering adopting an “open data” approach, allowing the growing Yorkshire based community of independent data scientists secure access to its data streams. This will enable the company to work closely with the growing Yorkshire community of digital developers to help find new and innovative solutions to pollution and leakage problems.

The work forms part of a wider multi-million pound package announced last week by Yorkshire Water that will create 300 new jobs to help the firm become a top performer in the water sector.

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