Data scientists and industry experts from around the world are coming together at Northumbrian Water’s 2020 Innovation Festival to discuss how sewer level monitoring data can be used intelligently to reduce our impact on the environment.

In a ‘sprint’ led by Microsoft, this month, the group will be looking specifically at storm overflows (SOs), which play a major part in preventing flooding to homes and businesses.


SOs, which are consented by the Environment Agency, operate as a vital release valve to allow diluted wastewater to flow into watercourses during times of heavy rainfall when the combined sewer system is exceeded.


Without them, the sewer network would back up and flood homes, gardens, streets and highways with diluted, but untreated sewage. 


Innovative minds will work together virtually at the festival, applying algorithms, using different artificial intelligence tools and coming up with new ideas, to explore how the data already harvested from SOs can help to further reduce the number of spills and their duration in future.


By using this data more intelligently, the North East water company plans to gain better insight into its SOs, allowing it to proactively identify any potential issues and take quicker operational action.


Richard Warneford, Northumbrian Water’s Wastewater Director, said: “We are committed to improving and protecting our watercourses, which is reflected in the hundreds of millions of pounds we have invested in this area over the last two decades.


“We’re ready to improve this even more by taking the next steps at our Innovation Festival and working alongside the experts at Microsoft to look at the data we collect from our SOs with a fresh pair of eyes. 


“We’re expecting lots of big ideas and innovative digital tools, which will be able to help us detect any issues with SOs earlier, and therefore reducing any impact on our customers and the environment. We’re very excited to get started.”


Innovative thinkers and industry experts are being encouraged to sign up to this sprint at Northumbrian Water’s fourth Innovation Festival, which is taking place online this year from 14 – 17 September.


To find out more, see