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Northumbrian Water extends AI-based roadside asset mapping pilot

Northumbrian Water is to partner with Anglian Water to use new technology to map roadside assets in Essex.

Northumbrian became the first utility in the summer to sign up to take part in trials with Ordnance Survey and Mobileye who have developed AI-based technology that allows utility companies to map the location of their roadside assets including substations, telegraph poles, manhole covers and drains.

Fleets of vans and cars fitted with Mobileye’s automotive camera-based mapping technology will capture a street-level (worms-eye) view of the nation’s road network to create the first detailed roadside infrastructure dataset of Britain for a new, accurate and customisable location information service.

Clive Surman-Wells, operational solutions manager at Northumbrian Water said that Northumbrian Water has fitted the technology to its vehicles operating in the Gateshead area. But since then it has also agreed with Anglian to trial it in an area of Essex where the companies overlap. In these areas Northumbrian Water supplies water services operating as Essex & Suffolk Water, and Anglian Water provides sewerage services. 

Surman-Wells and experts from Ordnance Survey, Mobileye and Northumbrian will all take part in a Free Utility Week webinar on 19 November.

Retrofitted with the Mobileye 8 Connect, the vehicles are detecting, processing and sending data to the cloud for aggregation before the information is provided to Ordnance survey. Northumbrian in turn will then be carrying out their own analyses to check against their own data bases. The more times a vehicle captures an asset, the better the location fix becomes.

Surman-Wells said: “We’re really excited and proud to be the first utility company to have the opportunity to try this new technology. There are so many benefits that have the potential to really change the game when it comes to helping manage our networks and keep our customers’ water flowing.

“We have 25,000 km of water mains and 30,000 km of sewers, it’s incredibly time-consuming to send out surveyors to map all of this. The technology should provide a way of mapping without the surveying.”

 “So far our analysis has shown that our vehicles travel along diverse routes but already we are seeing some gaps on certain types of road.  It’s crucial we get regular and frequent coverage of as many roads – and therefore assets – as possible.  So we are looking to partner with local authorities with their bin collecting wagons and street sweepers”

Surman-Wells says the technology has huge potential: “We’re hopefully it will be able to be used to spot other problems, like water in the road – which may be an early sign of leakage, or vegetation growing in drains which could be a sign the gulley is blocked.”

Utility Week, in association with Ordnance Survey and Mobileye, will explain in the webinar how the innovative new application of artificial intelligence for asset data capture is:

  • Helping utilities overcome key frustrations with patchy information about the location and health of assets
  • Supporting alignment of above and below ground asset maps
  • Promoting better asset management
  • Safeguarding field workers
  • Promoting fleet efficiency
  • Joining Ordnance Survey, Mobileye and Northumbrian Water will be a speaker from the energy sector.

Register here for the webinar on November 19.



Topic: Innovation
Tags: mapping , water , infrastructure , Northumbrian Water , Anglian Water , Ordnance Survey


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