Innovative project reaches new depths despite global pandemic

A North East water company has continued to innovate and progress a ground-breaking safety project, despite being in the middle of a global pandemic. 

Cambridge, UK, 17th June 2020, ( 1Spatial, the global geospatial software, solutions and business applications company, have been working together with Northumbrian Water on a project aimed at measuring and modelling the depth of the water company’s underground network of water pipes.

When complete, the maps will allow utility workers to be more confident about how deep to expect pipes and other services beneath their feet.

This will make it safer for workers who need to dig underground, by helping them to avoid striking pipes by mistake, as well as being better equipped for the job, reducing disruption to customers’ water supplies and roadwork delays.

The idea to build a constantly learning model of pipe depths came out of Northumbrian Water’s Innovation Festival last year and the team needed a key workshop to discuss important factors, such as how data is collected and how it will be conveyed to field workers in a convenient tool.

However, due to coronavirus, the session, which was vital for the teams to understand how to progress plans, was about to be postponed and the organisations feared the project would be put on hold and delayed.

Despite COVID-19, the companies were determined to keep innovating and so instead of holding traditional meetings and sessions, they held virtual workshops and group discussions via mobile apps and laptops. This allowed a number of key decisions to be made and meant the project can now progress to the next stage.

Northumbrian Water’s Operational Solutions Manager, Clive Surman-Wells, said:

“When we went into lockdown, we didn’t think it would be possible to hold our workshop because we envisaged working on a shared flip chart, sketching things out and having lots of debate. 

“However, I’m delighted that by holding the workshop virtually and using some collaboration tools, we’ve been able to achieve as much as we would have face to face, but without the travel and as it turns out, in less time too! 

“I’m really proud that despite the challenges, we can continue to progress this really exciting and important project, as originally planned and on time, with our partners, 1Spatial.” 

Jess Hampton, Head of Utilities at 1Spatial, said:

“Innovation in challenging times is what keeps things moving and enables businesses to thrive instead of flounder.  

“We were thrilled to work together in such an agile and innovative way to move forward an exciting and important project. A project that will mean Northumbrian Water can continue to deliver and exceed excellent customer service levels, knowing their teams can work in a safer way while minimising disruption to the water supply.” 

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