The new technology has been developed in collaboration with Invenio Systems, a company that specialises in providing innovative solutions for the water industry. The sensors are fitted to the outside of the pipe network, and the data they transmit can be used to assess the rate of flow of water passing through the pipes.
When there is a burst on the network the sensors will detect the change in the flow of water, and the details will be passed on to Northumbrian Water′s leakage detection team to investigate further.
The idea for a street level sensor to help with leak detection was first explored at Northumbrian Water′s Innovation Festival in July 2017. Following that the water company has been working with Invenio Systems to develop and trial the system. The next step will be to run a pilot project to test the performance of the sensors on the Northumbrian Water network.
Joe Butterfield, Northumbrian Water Network Performance Specialist said: "This is another example of how we are using innovation to combat leaks and reduce the amount of water that goes to waste from our pipe network.
"We have been working closely with Invenio Systems to develop this concept since the 2017 Innovation Festival, and we are excited to see how it performs. This technology could make a real difference, helping us to detect leaks as soon as they happen so we can get out to fix them with minimal water going to waste, and minimal disruption to our customers."
Stuart Trow, Invenio Systems Director said: "We believe this is the first time anywhere in the world that this type of sensor has been used on a live water distribution network to understand patterns of flow and to detect leaks. We are very excited to test our sensors in this way and we appreciate the support provided by Northumbrian Water."
The use of street level sensors is one of a number of innovative approaches that Northumbrian Water is currently working on to reduce leakage, including the use of satellite technology to capture images which can be used to detect leaks, and the use of sniffer dogs to detect the scent of leaks.
The company has also introduced a new interactive online map to help customers report leaks quickly and track progress with repairs - www.nwlcommunityportal.co.uk/leaks.
The Innovation Festival, organised by Northumbrian Water, brings together some of the world′s leading businesses and most innovative companies to develop solutions to major global issues over the course of five days. The 2019 edition takes places at Newcastle Racecourse from 8 to 12 July, after more than 3,000 people attended the 2017 and 2018 events.