Moving to proactive management of water distribution networks using real-time models and state-of-the-art data analytics is potentially transformational. This project will start to realise the potential of such a switch.
The current, predominantly reactive, mode of network operation negatively impacts customer service (e.g. discolouration and supply interruptions) and is also inefficient and hence expensive compared to planned work. To make further improvements in customer service and operational efficiency, water companies need to be able to understand network behaviour in real time and anticipate and manage problems including the negative impacts of interventions before they affect customers. Customer expectations on service and value for money will rise as a result of the energy smart metering rollout and the water sector must react to this.
The potential benefits of proactively managing the water distribution network are substantial. In the first instance reduced OPEX will be realised through more efficient operation and less time chasing problems. Customer satisfaction will improve as customers will no longer be used as an extension to telemetry systems and this will result in improved SIM scores.
Additional potential benefits include reduced leakage and costs of ALC, reduced model maintenance costs and more accurate models.
This project will build on work at the University of Manchester (UoM) to develop a distributed computing architecture specifically for improved network management. A large-scale practical trial of real-time network model-based operational support systems will be carried out with participating water companies using data from existing network telemetry. The platform will enable:
- Rapid integration/development and testing of validation, calibration/optimisation, event detection and other algorithms/components (server side), and decision support applications on mobile devices.
- Access to high-performance computing resources to provide answers in real time.
The project will address potential barriers to success and the need for accompanying changes to IT systems and business processes and practices. The output will be a pragmatic implementation plan for proactive network management using real-time modelling, optimisation and decision support applications. A business plan covering the costs and benefits and critical success factors will also be produced.
The existing work at UoM will allow the project to hit the ground running. The practical, collaborative nature of the project will provide a valuable sharing and learning experience, as well as information and confidence for moving forward in an accelerated timescale. The work will be supported by a TSB-funded Knowledge Transfer Partnership with UoM providing a dedicated software development resource.