By utilising unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology to remotely map thermal data, combined with high-resolution photogrammetry, Sensat has developed a probability-based algorithm that assesses vegetation stress, terrain relief and thermal scans to predict where leaks might be along water mains in rural areas.
It is the latest innovation to be trialled by United Utilities as part of its strategy to maintain resilient water supplies in the future.
the North West England water firm hopes that this new technology will enable them to take remedial action faster and more cost effectively.
Greg Larner, United Utilities’ leakage technical officer, said: “With shifting weather patterns, due to climate change, there is an increased risk of periods of drought, so it is important for us to explore the latest technologies to reduce water wastage and protect the environment.
“We’re increasingly collecting vast amounts of data about leakage, so artificial intelligence is becoming a key tool in helping to make sense of it.”
Working closely with the United Utilities’ leak detection experts in an invaluable feedback loop, the validation of results will further inform the models, meaning the algorithms will improve their accuracy over time at predicting the leaks, providing further efficiencies in the future.
James Dean, CEO at Sensat, said: “When you consider that the reliable supply of water underpins almost every aspect of human life and the threat of climate change will mean we will have to prepare for a drier future, it’s vital that we work together to tackle the challenges that are affecting the water industry.
“Our visualisation platform identifies leaks through geospatial mapping and its probability model is enabling a collaborative approach for analysis, removing the need for manual inspections to significantly reduce the time and cost for detecting leaks.
“This supports United Utilities’ commitment to securing resilient water supplies on track and our commitment to helping companies be more sustainable by reducing wastage.”
The successful completion of this trial will open up the exploration of further use cases for data beyond leak detection to help deliver the appropriate level of resilience that the water network needs for the long term.
Image credit: muratart/shutterstock
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