An innovative new project is being established to develop a Smart device that can help detect potential issues with a customer′s water supply and raise alerts before they are even aware there′s a problem.

Led by Northumbrian Water Group, the project team has been brought together to take forward the idea that came out of one of the 13 ‘Design Sprints′ held at the company′s Innovation Festival 2018.


The ‘SMART Objectives′ sprint - facilitated by global IT and business process services firm CGI - looked at ways to use Smart technology to help change and improve customers′ lives. The result was "Barnacle" - an "Internet of Things (IoT)" sensor capable of monitoring changes in key water parameters, which may indicate problems with the supply.

Gathering data at individual customer level, ‘Barnacle′ - which will be placed inside a toilet cistern without the need for installation or any technical or plumbing knowledge - would be able to:


• Warn of potential leaks, either in the supply pipe or deeper within the network;
• Detect discoloured water;
• Identify water leakage through the toilet;
• Identify risks of freezing pipes;


Northumbrian Water and CGI will be working with other interested parties to develop this idea into an opportunity to help water customers everywhere.


Work is underway to develop a proof of concept on the technology.


Eddie Wrigley, Innovation Facilitator at Northumbrian Water Group, said: "At present, our ability to gather data from sensors stops well outside the individual properties, but this will allow us to gather informative and helpful information that will help us ensure that the water we deliver is always clean, clear and great tasting.


"Barnacle could prove an effective early warning system for other problems that could affect a home. There is so much great potential for doing exciting things with this technology that will really benefit our customers, subject to a successful proof of concept."


Stuart Brand, Vice President, Consulting Services at CGI UK, said: "CGI has been a key supporter of NWG′s Innovation Festival since its inception last year. The Design Sprints have demonstrated themselves to be highly effective at driving new innovative ideas, and we are proud in our role in running one. The concept of Barnacle has attracted immediate interest within NWG and we are excited about the work to build a proof of concept and to make it reality. It is another example of our commitment to delivering innovation in the water sector."


Keep track of Barnacle′s progress on the Innovation website and on Northumbrian Water′s social media channels ( and - #InnovationFestival18) and on CGI channels: and