An industry-leading innovative partnership between Northumbrian Water and data management specialists 1Spatial will help to enhance response times for customers who experience problems with the sewer network in and around their properties.
By configuring 1Spatial’s unique software using Northumbrian Water’s expert engineering knowledge, a new model of the network was created.
In 2011, some parts of the sewer network that typically lie within private property boundaries were transferred to water company ownership. Since then, Northumbrian Water has been using traditional surveying techniques to identify what was initially expected to be 13,500km of adopted sewers.
This has involved such methods as digitising maps from sources including local authorities and developers.
Combined with expert knowledge of the sewer network, enabling the creation of a set of rules that model the actual position of the unmapped sewers, means much of the labour-intensive, time consuming and expensive manual surveying is no longer required.
The use of the new digital mapping system, created in collaboration between Northumbrian Water and Cambridge-based 1Spatial, is expected to reduce the cost of the process from £10m to £2.5m and cut the time taken to complete the process from five years to two years.
By creating a full map of the sewer network that includes the adopted piping, Northumbrian Water will be able to:
- Respond to problems such as blockages or collapses with a better advance knowledge of the local network, reducing investigation time and speeding up clearances and repairs;
- Identify problem areas and the potential to improve the network where necessary.
The initial digital model that has been created of the adopted sewers has identified an additional 5,000km of piping. This map is now being assessed manually, by teams of surveyors on site utilising geographic information system (GIS) technology, to validate and further refine the mapping technology to create a more accurate network map.
Mike Madine, Northumbrian Water’s Sewerage and New Development Manager, said: “Giving the best possible service to customers is at the heart of everything that we do. Having the most complete understanding possible of our sewer network helps us to enhance and make more efficient our response to incidents such as blockages and collapses.
“Our partnership with 1Spatial has led to the development of an industry-leading process that combines our expertise and traditional surveying with state of the art mapping technology. The process is also resulting in significant savings in the cost and length of the process, delivering value for money and a valuable resource that otherwise wouldn’t have been available for a number of years.”
Bob Chell, Head of Consultancy Services at 1Spatial, said: “Working collaboratively with Northumbrian Water to understand their data and business challenges with the sewer network, we were able to use our expertise, knowledge and software to provide a solution to meet the needs of the project. This has resulted in significant benefits including cost savings and process improvement. We were delighted to partner with Northumbrian on such an innovative and industry leading solution.”
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