Innovate UK Data-driven Precision Surface Water Management for Urban Environments

Lead Research Organisation: Lancaster University
Department Name: Computing & Communications

Abstract

Increasing levels of urbanization and climate change dictate that managing surface water in cities is an area of major concern. At present the maintainers of the surface water drainage infrastructure have a limited understanding of the way in which this network operates and how it should best be maintained to protect citizens from the risks of flooding and environmental damage through pollution. Existing systems, pioneered by members of this consortium, have recently enabled new forms of intelligent maintenance regimes but their effectiveness is severely constrained by the limited data available. In this project we will create a system that delivers a step-change in the quality and quantity of data available from our urban water infrastructure and enables a transformation in our understanding of the network and how best it can be maintained. If successful we will deliver a world-class urban surface water management system that can be used to increase the effectiveness of city maintenance practices, support new data-driven applications and reduce overall costs in a time of increasing urbanization.

Planned Impact

The project has the potential to transform the way we manage highways surface water in urban environments. The system will be comprised of a new low-cost sensor network for urban gullies, new data sets that enhance our understanding of the role of gullies in managing urban pollution and new data models and decision support systems that enable effective action to be taken by city authorities. Gullies are an important component of urban infrastructure and members of the consortium have shown that targeted gully cleaning can be used in order to reduce the number of cleaning cycles (delivering cost savings), while minimizing the risk of surface water flooding (environmental and economic benefits) and to help control toxin levels (ensuring compliance with EU and UK legislation and avoiding financial penalties). However, existing approaches are either manual and suffer from high costs and inaccuracies associated with manual inspections or rely on prototype sensors that are expensive to maintain, have exhibited reliability issues and are only able to supply low-fidelity data. The opportunity lies in addressing these obstacles to enable the widespread adoption of a sensor driven system for fine-grained surface water management that enables urban authorities to reduce the cost of associated maintenance while delivering improved resilience in terms of surface water flooding and enhanced environmental protection through better management of roadside toxins.

Our dissemination route to potential near-term users will be through our working relationships with InTouch and a wide range of councils & operators formed as part of the EPSRC/TSB funded FAITH trusted-services project, the Smart Streets IoT Demonstrator Project and the Smart Clean feasibility study. Potential providers of highways assets and associated data will be informed through Balfour, Carillion and InTouch's links to the highways industry. In particular, InTouch currently lead the UK's intelligent gully cleaning market and have a system that is in use in over 1M of the UK's 14M gullies. The inclusion of the Transport Systems Catapult also provides an important new route for dissemination and impact as they provide a conduit to a wide range of stakeholders.
Academic dissemination will be led by Lancaster University and all the project partners will actively engage in dissemination activities. Full details of the partner's plans for impact and exploitation are described in the InnovateUK proposal.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title SmartWater/SmartClean promo video 
Description Promotional video describing the smartwater approach. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact Used as part of dissemination activities to convey the novel approach of the smartwater solution 
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7y_Eb2nEaDg
 
Description We have produced papers that report on the use of Lora to underpin the IoT in smart urban environments.

We have helped develop tools for the collection of data relating to drainage state and developed new understanding how how to model flood and contaminant risk in highways drainage networks.
Exploitation Route Our findings can be used but he highways industry to improve transport infrastructure maintenance and surface water management. The results can also be used by environmental groups to inform policy on appropriate cleaning regimes for highways gullies. Furthermore, findings developed as part of the project have been taken forward and applied within the rail sector in collaboration with Network Rail as part of the follow-on TrackWater project.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Environment,Transport

 
Description The project partners have enhanced their product offerings through the use of research results developed. We have helped inform knowledge of environmental impact of highways drainage within the highways and council sectors. In particular, technical project outputs have been further developed and evaluated more recently within the rail sector to support the maintenance of rail-side catch-pits.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Construction,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Environment,Transport
Impact Types Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description SmartWater REF2021 commercialisation
Amount £9,000 (GBP)
Organisation Lancaster University 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2018 
End 06/2018
 
Description TrackWater: Supporting High-Value, Low-Cost Rail Network Drainage Asset Management
Amount £636,078 (GBP)
Funding ID 103957 
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2017 
End 09/2018
 
Description Consortium Partner (Balfour Beatty) 
Organisation Balfour Beatty
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Research and development of innovative digital technologies to support intelligent transport infrastructure surface water management and understanding of trust issues around the IoT .
Collaborator Contribution Domain expertise in the management of highways infrastructure surface water, and specifically the maintenance of road-side gully networks in the UK. Furthermore, Baflour have provided research teams access to real user systems and processes to evaluate and trial novel ideas and applications.
Impact Organisational change in the maintenance of highways infrastructure through the deployment of new decision-support tools and IoT hub technology.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Consortium partner (Carillion) 
Organisation Carillion
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Research and development of future digital technologies to support sustainable highways infrastructure maintenance and enhance trusted relationships between key stakeholders and adoption of IoT hub technologies.
Collaborator Contribution Domain specific knowledge related to highways maintenance and access to real user systems and processes to evaluate novel ideas and applications.
Impact Changes in highways maintenance working practice and strategic decision-making through the deployment of innovative products and services
Start Year 2011
 
Description Consortium partner (In Touch) 
Organisation In Touch Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Through our understanding and development of novel trust models in the context of highways maintenance we have transferred expert knowledge to help inform In Touch Ltd products and services developed to enhance levels of trust in the highways sector. Specifically, we have shown In Touch Ltd how to utilise several requirements analysis methods that include the use of ethnographic study, innovation workshops and user-centred design approaches. More generally, In Touch Ltd has benefitted from our innovation processes, software development skills (e.g. rapid prototyping), communication plans, technical management and knowledge transfer support through student placements.
Collaborator Contribution We have benefitted from domain specific knowledge from In Touch Ltd and access to real user systems and processes to evaluate novel ideas and applications.
Impact Innovative digital technologies to support highways maintenance activities.
Start Year 2012
 
Description Project Partner (Environment Agency) 
Organisation Environment Agency
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Access to highways drainage silt and water contaminant datasets and concluding analysis describing the behaviour of road-side contaminants.
Collaborator Contribution Guidance on contaminant sampling protocols and expertise on the environmental impact of road-side contaminants.
Impact None
Start Year 2014
 
Description Project Sub-contractor (Radio Data Networks) 
Organisation Radio Data Networks
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Wireless communications guidance and expertise in the iterative design of a gully drainage sensor network.
Collaborator Contribution Implementation and delivery of a gully sensor probe and supporting highways infrastructure wireless network.
Impact No impact yet
Start Year 2015
 
Description Transport Catapult 
Organisation Transport Systems Catapult
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Working on this project for the first time with the Transport Systems Catapult. We have worked with members of the Catapult on creating a transport data hub.
Collaborator Contribution This collaboration has been strengthened through the contributions of In Touch.
Impact None to be reported at this time.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Trial Site Partner 
Organisation Bristol City Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Provision of novel hardware and software research outputs to be deployed as part of an in-field trial aimed at understanding the behaviour of road gullies in the City of Bristol to further support changes in gully operations working practice.
Collaborator Contribution Access to the gully network infrastructure in Bristol, support in the deployment of gully sensor networks and access to operational/strategic management stakeholders within the City of Bristol Council.
Impact A more innovative outlook on the management of drainage infrastructure.
Start Year 2015
 
Title GULLY SENSOR AND APPARATUS 
Description There is presented a gully sensor for deployment within, and detecting the presence of matter contained in, a gully. The gully sensor may be arranged to detect when the gully has become blocked, and may further be arranged to notify an external party of such an event. The gully sensor may comprise an elongate body, the body further comprising a first portion which accommodates a light source and a second portion which accommodates a light detector for detecting light emitted from the light source along a light path towards the detector. The gully sensor may further comprise a cross section that is orientated along at least a portion of the light path shaped to allow the matter to intersect at least a portion of the light path, and which joins the first and second portions via the elongate body. 
IP Reference WO/2018/162908 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2018
Licensed No
Impact N/A
 
Title Highways Maintenance IoT Data Hub 
Description An open IoT data management platform based on CKAN to support the storage and distribution of highways maintenance datasets 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact This platform is enabling highways maintainer organisations to open and share typically silo'd datasets to facilitate new applications that will shape future highways management working practices. 
 
Title Surface Water Management Decision-Support Platform 
Description A real-time data ingestion, transformation and visualisation platform to provision diagnostic, predictive and prescriptive analytics capabilities to enable informed highways maintenance decision-making. 
Type Of Technology e-Business Platform 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact This platform is being used by maintenance providers to facilitate new levels of efficiency in the management of highways drainage infrastructure. 
 
Description End of Project InnovateUK Showcase Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact This event showcased emerging cyber-physical drainage technologies and demonstrated novel technical outputs including drainage decision-support and sensor network technologies to an audience of highways maintenance organisations including Highways England (Steve Berry OBE - Head of Roads) and Balfour Beatty Mott MacDonald. The primary impact from this activity was to provide the sector with a greater understanding and awareness of the work undertaken as part of the project and the potential benefits such technologies could have on the sector as a whole.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Highways England SmartWater Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Representatives from the highways sector involved in drainage management (including Balfour Beatty, Highways England, Carillion Plc, Connect Plus Services, InTouch, Bristol Council) attended a one-day workshop exploring prominent drainage maintenance challenges, and the potential of novel IoT technologies to support future smart drainage operations. In particular, this workshop focused discussions around opportunities for deploying and trialling new drainage monitoring technologies across both the UK's existing road network and strategic road infrastructure.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Rail technology magazine article for smartwater 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Magazine article published in Rail Technology Magazine. Provides rail industry practitioners with an introduction to the smartwater solution for drainage management and flood mitigation on the transport network.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.railtechnologymagazine.com/Comment/trackwater-embracing-data-in-flood-prevention-
 
Description SmartWater rail deployment press release 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Lancaster University in collaboration with trackwater consortia produced a press release targeted at the rail industry to raise awareness of an on-track deployment of the smartwater system originally developed as part of the 'Data-driven Precision Surface Water Management for Urban Environments ' project. This was distributed across a range of rail industry magazine publications.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.railway-technology.com/news/network-rail-trial-technology-prevent-flooding-tracks/