Water is an essential service for us all; as we depend on a secure and high quality service that is delivered at prices we can afford.

 Yet England is facing water supply shortages by 2050 unless rapid action is taken to curb water use and wastage, the Environment Agency is warning us.


Water companies have a huge challenge in their hands as their networks are largely buried underground, in remote and inaccessible locations and consisting of aging assets. They corrode, burst, leak, and get damaged by third parties. Companies have little control over the availability of water, on demographic or environmental changes, and limited influence on consumer demand.


Smart technology is available that can help us address this challenge, and it is already being applied across other industries to reduce wastage and improve efficiency. But how might these smart enablers be used to improve customer service, reduce wastage in the water sector and get us - consumers to change our behaviour?


Massive amounts of data are already available to help us understand what is happening in the water network. There is a proliferation of new sensors and monitoring devices being introduced that collect even more data to improve that visibility. These "Internet of Things" devices promise to make data readily available at a low cost to improve networks operations. Smart meters are being introduced, which give a much clearer view of consumption patterns. The concept of the smart home is being established. Artificial intelligence, robotics and augmented reality are techniques that are now commonly used in other industries.


The CGI sponsored sprint at Northumbrian Water′s 2018 Innovation Festival will look at all these smart enablers and explore how they can be used to improve customer service levels, drive down customer bills and secure water supply for all.


Stuart Brand, Water Sector Lead from CGI said: "We are very excited to be supporting the Northumbrian Water Innovation Festival once again and to lead a sprint on the topic of smart technologies. CGI has a long history of bringing technological innovation in the utilities sector and this brilliant initiative will give us the opportunity to bring the full breath of our experience to the table."


Eddie Wrigley, from NWG′s Research and Technology team, said: "The Smart Objectives sprint is about looking at the tech that′s currently out there and pushing it to its limits. Exploring what the possibilities are if there are no rules and finding out what smart technology could do to truly revolutionise and change our lives as water consumers and water companies alike. We′re hoping for some great results and outputs that we can bring to life quickly, and I can′t wait to get started."


To find out what the ‘Smart Objectives′ sprint team comes up with during the festival you can follow all of the action live on social media by following @northumbrianh2o on twitter and facebook or by visiting www.innovationfestival.org.