Getting streetwise at Innovation Festival

Northumbrian Water plans to take its next big digital mapping project off the streets and straight into the heart of its Innovation Festival.

The North East water company recently announced it is taking part in two trailblazing pilots which will see detailed digital maps created of underground assets and roadside infrastructure.

The idea for the underground mapping project was born out Northumbrian Water's Innovation Festival in 2018. In less than 12 months, it has gained support from other utilities and local authorities and plans are being made to extend it across the country.

It will result in a shared digital map of the pipes and cables that run underground, to help save lives and reduce the disruption caused when they are struck by mistake.

Now, experts from project partners, Ordnance Survey, plan to lead the follow-on session at the company's 2019 Innovation Festival, to dig even deeper and map out a next generation digital streetscape map for utility companies.

Innovators and creative thinkers from around the world will get together in the five-day ‘sprint' to look for clever ways that streetscape assets can be collected and mapped, making a year's worth of progress in a week.

Clive Surman-Wells, Northumbrian Water's Operational Solutions Manager, said: "The more accurately we can map things like pipes, manholes and valves, the quicker we can respond to our customers and keep the water flowing. This also reduces the likelihood of underground services being damaged by accident, meaning fewer delays and interruptions to service.

"We're really excited to get back together at the Innovation Festival and to quickly put into action some amazing new thinking that will improve services for customers, while keeping our employees even safer, and changing lives and cities.

Andy Wilson, Ordnance Survey Head of Infrastructure Sector, said: "It is very pleasing to see the effort that we and our partners delivered at the previous festivals, being recognised at the highest levels of government as being of high value to the nation, and then supporting that with investment.

"What is great about the Northumbrian Water Innovation Festival, is that you are surrounded by likeminded people who want to strive to make a significant difference."  

Northumbrian Water's fleet of vans and cars are already being fitted with Mobileye's automated cameras, as part of the roadside mapping pilot project in partnership with Ordnance Survey.

These will capture a street-level (worm's eye) view of the region's roadside infrastructure network, from traffic lights and road signs, to manhole covers and drainage grates.

The Northumbrian Water Innovation Festival 2019 takes place from 8 to 12 July at Newcastle Racecourse.

To find out what the team comes up with during the Innovation Festival, you can follow the action on social media by following @NorthumbrianH2O on Twitter and Facebook, or by visiting www.innovationfestival.org.

Janine Rillands