Innovation, both big and small within the industry has the ability to push forward improvements for customers, the environment and the business.
In February 2021, we submitted two lead company applications into Ofwat’s £200 million Water in Innovation Challenge.
Out of a packed field of 61 bids, 11 won Ofwat’s backing including one of our submissions, CatchmentLIFE, which has the potential to have lasting environmental benefits by improving the water habitats for our native species across the UK.
To find out more, read our dedicated case study here. LINK
We are also partners in two other projects which were selected to receive funding:
- Supporting customers in vulnerable circumstances
- Water Innovation Centre of Excellence
To find out more, read our dedicated case study. LINK
Details of the fund can be found on the Ofwat Innovation in Water Challenge website.
The innovation fund is not the only way we’re driving change, our people are working across the business to generate improvements for customers, our people and in the way we operate.
From big technological advancements to smaller system improvements, each is innovative in its own way.
Our dedicated innovation platform, Atlas, captures the great ideas and innovative work completed by our people. During 2020/21 490 ideas were submitted to the platform, 357 underwent development and 287 were completed or approved.
We also have 27 Innovation Champions and Changemakers across the business to help and support individuals and teams implementing new ideas.
Projects implemented during 2020/21 include:
- Developing our automated My Account online portal and desktop application which empowers customers to submit their own meter readings, manage their payment plans, make payments and change their address along with keeping a track of their water use. The portal also includes advice on where customers could use less water and save money.
- The PikaVoid trial app has been designed to help the business reduce the number of Void, or empty properties on our systems. Staff can download the GIS map onto their phones and when they’re out and about in their community answer a few quick questions about a pre-selected property. The answers are sent back to our collections team who use the information to help determine whether a property is empty or not. This ensures all water being used is paid for by those who use it.
- As part of our wider ambition to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030 we joined a group project with Lancaster University to understand the impacts floating solar panels have on ecosystems. The project found that floating panels reduce the impact of algae blooms and therefore improve water quality.
- Publishing a new Lessons Learnt register for use across the business boosting knowledge sharing when project planning. To date, 40 lessons from previous projects have been uploaded to the register to help others in the future.
From developing a comprehensive crisis management tool which will assist in the coordination of our response to incidents to creating a new leakage software system, there are also many other projects currently being scoped, developed and driven by our people to improve the way we operate.
The latest on developing a Smart Network
During 2020/21 we analysed the results of our award winning and innovative smart networks trial with results showing benefits over and above simply reducing leaks on our pipes.
The trial, which took place in 2019/20, was the first time state-of-the-art digital water meters, sensors and loggers brought data together into one central area for advanced analysis using artificial intelligence techniques.
Alongside reducing leaks, we found the benefits to customers from reducing interruptions to drinking water supplies and improving water quality was far greater than anticipated.
In a few years we hope the technology will enable us to create a smart network across most or all of our network in a cost effective way. In the meantime we’re embracing what we’ve learnt from the trial by implementing a new leakage software system while also installing more meters, sensors and loggers on our network, giving us a greater understanding of what’s happening underground whilst also increasing our operational effectiveness.