The water-only company will use Vodafone’s Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) technology to create an intelligent water distribution network, in the hope of cutting leakage by 15% over the next five years, and 50% by 2045.
Vodafone and SES have been working over the past few months with partners to install specialist digital water meters, sensors and acoustic loggers on underground mains water pipes, which were connected using Vodafone’s NB-IoT network. This operates within a very narrow radio band frequency enabling wider coverage and deeper penetration than traditional networks, so is ideal for use underground or within buildings.
Data will be collected and transmitted across the system and advanced analytics will be used to monitor readings and alert SES immediately if there is a leak, low pressure or another network abnormalities.
Acoustic loggers “listen” for escaping water within the network to determine when leaks have occurred and to assist in pinpointing the precise location.
Readings from smart meters will provide valuable insight into customer demand patterns so that SES can help customers manage their water usage better, help reduce their bills and be alerted to leakage occurring on customers’ pipework before it can cause any damage.
The project, now underway across east Surrey, west Kent, West Sussex and south London, follows Vodafone’s smart water network pilot with South East Water last year.
SES Network Strategy Manager Daniel Woodworth said the firm “already has industry-leading leakage levels”, but “wants to do more”. “This collaborative project has been worked on for a number of months and will help us revolutionise how we detect and prevent water leaks – on either our mains or our customers’ pipes – as soon as they occur,” he added.
“In the future it could even enable us to predict and prevent pipeline failure before it happens. It will put our operational teams in a position of knowledge, not only enabling us to reduce the water we take from the natural environment but also further minimising interruptions to supply, and in doing so provide a gold standard service for our customers for many years to come.”