Northumbrian Water Group to develop a Smart device that detects potential issues with a customer’s water supply


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, which includes Essex & Suffolk Water, 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;

The water company 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.