An idea which will help to protect the North East’s watercourses and improve rural internet connectivity at the same time, could be transformed into a reality, thanks to an innovative Wearside company.

Northumbrian Water, CGI and the Water Hub have appointed digital fabrication company, FabLab Sunderland to help them get their ‘Dragonfly’ water sensor idea off paper and turned into a working prototype by September.


FabLab, which can digitally design an idea and bring it to life using 3D printers and laser cutters, will spend the next few months exploring the best options for creating Dragonfly - water sensors and communications technology which can collect and monitor real-time information from rivers and streams, as well as enhancing wireless connectivity.


The idea for Dragonfly was first developed at Northumbrian Water’s Innovation Festival last year, during an environmental challenge facilitated by global IT and business consulting company, CGI.


Since then, the two companies have teamed up with The Water Hub – a partnership between Durham University, Durham County Council, the Environment Agency and Northumbrian Water, to find suitable inventors and creators to build the invention on their behalf.


A total of eight applications were received after they announced the challenge back in December, which were reviewed by an external panel before successful applicants FabLab Sunderland were chosen.


Information collected by Dragonfly, such as water quality, flow and depth, will help Northumbrian Water to maintain its industry-leading environmental performance by managing its water and wastewater network even better. 


It will also help other organisations make decisions about water safety and how catchments are managed.


The aim is for a number of different sensors placed in rivers and streams to form a mesh concept, linking multiple units together with 5G and creating a physical network of wireless connectivity for the benefit of rural communities.


Clare Deasy, Northumbrian Water’s Catchment Coordinator and project lead, said: “We are delighted to appoint FabLab to lead the proof of concept product for us. They understand what the ambition is for Dragonfly and their approach to innovation fits with the spirit of the challenge.


“We’re excited about working with them over the coming months to see which aspects of Dragonfly are really achievable and turning this concept into a reality for the benefit of our customers and communities.”


Alistair MacDonald FabLab Sunderland Manager, said: “We are delighted to be joining the Dragonfly collaboration to make this innovative idea a reality. 


“FabLab Sunderland’s unique facilities enables high speed prototyping and accelerates technology development in the region."


CGI has been instrumental in providing information to support the development of Dragonfly and a prototype is expected by September. 


Graham Hainsworth, Director of Consulting at CGI, said: “The team at CGI is very much looking forward to seeing the proof of concept, which comes from an ongoing collaboration.


“We really enjoyed facilitating the sprint at Northumbrian Water’s Innovation Festival last summer and it’s fantastic to see the Dragonfly concept moving forward. The project team would like to express all of our thanks to everyone who has given their time and input to date.”

About CGI

Founded in 1976, CGI is among the largest independent IT and business consulting services firms in the world. With 78,000 consultants and other professionals across the globe, CGI delivers an end-to-end portfolio of capabilities, from strategic IT and business consulting to systems integration, managed IT and business process services and intellectual property solutions. CGI works with clients through a local relationship model complemented by a global delivery network that helps clients digitally transform their organizations and accelerate results. With Fiscal 2019 reported revenue of C$12.1 billion, CGI shares are listed on the TSX (GIB.A) and the NYSE (GIB). Learn more at