Pipe Inference

Creating connected networks 

 

  • Get full value from your existing data by creating further accurate data sets
  • Reduce reliance on costly surveys
  • Assign confidence levels to these data sets to increase usability and confidence in your data
  • Create a digital twin of your network which is underpinned by high quality and complete data
  • Improve operational efficiency and save your organisation time and money
  • Accurately model the impact of operations or incidents on the network and your customers

 

The Challenge

Utility networks have been developed over many years and have expanded as a result of many acquisitions. In addition to changing ownership, technology has changed over time meaning accurate data on the location or depth of the network is not always available or reliable. To add to the challenge, utility networks span large geographic areas and are often underground or difficult to access, making retrospectively collecting this information difficult and expensive.

Due to obvious health and safety implications, regulators now demand quality data from utilities. With data sharing being encouraged, the quality of this data now impacts the industry as a whole, not just the individual organisation.

For utilities, understanding their asset data is key to everyday operations. Utilities require a complete understanding of the network to be able to assess the potential impact of unexpected events or planned work, such as disruptions to customers supply. Missing, incomplete or inaccurate information can have significant financial, operational and social impacts on the utility. A complete network aids all areas of the business, for example; planning, operations, emergency response, health and safety, legal, customer impacts and communications. However, creating this complete network data set is complex, time-consuming and expensive, often requiring costly surveys.

The wastewater industry provides a good example of this challenge. In 2011 a change in legal ownership meant wastewater companies acquired responsibility for the management and maintenance of drains and sewers overnight. However, they were provided very little information on the location of this network. It was estimated that for the average company, the data completeness for the additional network was below 10% and this data was often contained in paper-based drawings. Northumbrian Water Group estimated that using traditional surveying techniques, it would take an estimated 15 years and £30 million to map the transferred network. It quickly became apparent, that NWG needed to find another way to gather this data.

The Solution

1Spatial’s Pipe Inference Solution offers a cost-effective and accurate method of gaining valued insight into the network through rules-based data discovery. The solution uses available data sets (either licensed and owned by the Utility or freely available) combined with expert knowledge to define what the missing data should look like. A confidence factor will then be assigned to the new data depending on the combination of rules and data used to create this data point. As more information is fed into the model, the accuracy increases.

This enables field and office-based decisions to be made confidently and accurately, from a trusted data source which fully informs the decision-maker. Trust in the data will also improve the quality and efficiency of daily operations.

In configuring the solution to meet the utilities specific requirements, 1Spatial’s approach is to include the organisations own subject matter experts in the design process. This enables the experts to take ownership of the solution and helps with the adoption of the solution across the organisation.

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The Result 

Only with complete and high-quality data, will utilities be able to move to a predictive or preventative approach to network management. In circumstances where they have to react, they can do so quickly and provide a better level of customer service.

Operational practices will be easier to plan and execute and customers will notice fewer disruptions. This is vitally important for utilities as they are heavily regulated with incentives and penalties linked to performance.

This solution clearly identifies to the user, whether inside the organisation or a third party, the level of confidence in the data. This allows users to make informed decisions free from the assumption that all data is correct and shares the same level of accuracy.

Northumbrian Water Group has proven that complete data, increases customer service and reduces the cost and timescales of operational practices: Case Study – Northumbrian Water. 

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If you would like to know more about how this solution could benefit your organisation, then please contact us.