Northumbrian Water and global IT and business consulting company, CGI, are currently working to develop a prototype called ‘Dragonfly′.
Dragonfly is a sensor which would be installed in watercourses across the region and would collect a range of data on variables such as temperature, quality, flow and depth.
The solar powered sensor could help Northumbrian Water build on its four-star environmental performance rating, by allowing it to manage its water and wastewater network even better in real-time, whilst also helping to protect the natural environment.
The types of data collected will better inform the decisions that the water company′s partners and other organisations collectively make about the environment, as well as being a catalyst for greater investment in the rural economy.
The aim is to utilise 5G technology to wirelessly connect a network of Dragonfly sensors that could provide improved internet access to rural communities including high speed broadband.
The idea, which builds on current and emerging sensor and deployment research and technology, came out of the water company′s Innovation Festival 2019, held in July at Newcastle Racecourse.
The Festival saw more than 3,000 industry experts, scientists, engineers, students and members of the public come together to tackle major environmental and social challenges faced by the water industry.
Over 100 people took part in the ‘Enabling the Rural Revolution: How can we enhance rural communities and the environment using Emerging Technologies?′ sprint, a five-day challenge facilitated by CGI, that gave birth to the Dragonfly idea and saw a prototype of the device developed by the end of the week.
The sprint looked at ways that emerging technology could build better-connected communities and protect the environment, and generated over 492 ideas across the five days.
Nigel Watson, Information Services Director at Northumbrian Water, said: "We′re hugely excited about Dragonfly and working with CGI to bring it to life.
"Dragonfly was one of the strongest ideas that came out of this year′s Innovation Festival and that is testimony to the effort and expertise that CGI brought to the project. It′s a hugely ambitious project but it will have huge benefits for us as a company, our customers and the environment.
"We′re incredibly proud of our environmental performance and we rely on the natural environment to provide clean drinking water for our 2.7 million customers in the North East. Dragonfly will help us to continue our industry-leading environmental performance and work even more closely with our partners and rural communities."
Paul Buxton, Vice President for Utilities and the North at CGI UK said: "This year′s festival was a hugely enjoyable week for the team from CGI. We were delighted by the commitment of attendees to our Sprint and the way in which it developed over the five days. We are excited by the development of Dragonfly and the possibilities it brings".