Macclesfield has become the UK’s first smart water network town after United Utilities added an AI network, which if successful could be rolled out across the north west.

The network includes leak detection technology and artificial intelligence (AI) to alert engineers to leaks. The AI will relay data in real time and learn to spot patterns in the network that could lead to leaks before they occur.

UU leakage manager Paul Parr said the single platform will replace separate data from pressure monitors, acoustic loggers and meters to help analysts make more informed decisions.

“Previously, if we had wanted to do some in-depth analysis we would be looking at a number of separate screens. Now we can see all the logger, pressure and consumption data on one screen and in more detail. We can locate the leaks faster and, just as importantly, we reduce the number of false positives where we send a repair team out and there’s no leak found.”

Damian Crawford, who is leading on technical development at partner company Stantec, said Macclesfield was chosen for its mixture of rural, urban and residential communities and high and low terrain, which means high and low water pressure.

“The objective of the industry-wide collaboration is to show how technology can improve customer service by monitoring the health of the network using the latest state-of-the-art digital flow and leak sensors, advanced analytics and telecommunications channels.

“It aims to change the traditional way a water network is managed by layering the data from multiple sensors spread out across Macclesfield into a single visualisation display – a smart analytics platform. We will effectively be creating a digital twin of Macclesfield’s water main network which will provide live diagnostics from flow, pressure, acoustic and water quality monitors and aims to improve the service to customers by reducing leakage and bursts levels in the area.”

As well as Stantec, the trial includes collaboration from Xylem, Vodafone, Diehl, ATi, Inflowmatix, HWM, Gutermann, Technolog and Ovarro.

The company last month set out plans for a £30 million rollout of leakage loggers, which it claimed will be the largest network of internet of things detectors in the world.

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