Nearly 4,000 people from over 40 countries took part in ‘The Brilliant Get-Together’, which was aimed at getting some of the sharpest minds from the worlds of technology, utilities, customer service and innovation together to solve some difficult industry problems.
During the four-day event, the attendees took part in a series of sprints, hacks and dashes which looked at a variety of solving the toughest water sector, environmental and societal challenges – such as water poverty and leakage.
To assist with the hard work, innovators were given some inspiring words of wisdom by special guests such as Louis Theroux, Will Kirk and Magid Magid.
A number of exciting ideas to come out of the festival came in a variety of forms, such as apps, new business models, digital models, new technology, wearables and funding mechanisms.
The ideas to watch include:
This focused on how to maximise the life of an asset. The innovators mocked up a tipping-point tool, which measures the health of the asset using key parameters. The tool tells you when you need to make smaller investments before costly issues occur, and this idea comes from the oil and gas sector.
During this sprint, the team looked at how we can enhance consumer engagement and operation performance with smart meters. The team came from the week with three different focusses; to make a more sustainable meter in terms of materials and lifespan, finding new ways to power it and novel sensors to add functionality.
This sprint was all about how we can work with customers to change their attitude to how they use water and show the true value of water. The innovators came up with concepts such as doing a ‘no-throw-away day’ and they will also work with developers to change housing stock and water provision in new build houses.
This sprint saw lots of ideas about how data science can help us achieve the lowest levels of sewer flooding in the home. The teams developed a flood risk calculator which was mocked up during the week, and also looked at a dynamic sewer flooding risk model.
Throughout this sprint, the teams worked on developing a proactive approach to avoid leakage from a clean water network. The innovators looked at a multipronged solution combining customer education about customer-side leakage, focus on problematic areas for leakage and also the development of a predictive leakage model.
Angela MacOscar, Head of Innovation at Northumbrian Water, said: “Last week was absolutely incredible, and I think it might have been the hardest I have ever seen our innovators work.
“The passion, drive and determination of our innovators when it comes to solving these problems cannot be compared, and that is shown in all the ideas that have sprung out from the week.
“It has been really difficult to pick my initial ones to watch, as all the ideas are still at the very early stages, but the ones I have selected have already shown some real promise.
“Although the festival is over, the hard work is only just beginning, as we work to bring each of the ideas into the real world to eventually make a value added product and most importantly a difference to our customers.”
Since the festival started in 2017, over 150 ideas have been progressed – most famously including the National Underground Asset Register, which has now been adopted by the UK Government.
For more information, go to www.innovationfestival.org