This article was first published by Southern Water 12/07/2018.
To most of us, the word 'data' doesn't usually conjure up the most fascinating of images - but here at Southern Water data is far from dry.
In fact, it's absolutely crucial in allowing us to provide a service to our customers and to help protect the environment.
That's why we're very excited to be working with some of the biggest and most iconic data partners in the world - Google and Solidatus - to help transform our data for wider use.
At present we collate and share data about drinking water quality and wastewater spillages with our regulators, such as Ofwat, the Environment Agency and the Drinking Water Inspectorate.
Now, using world-leading methods, we are gaining new insights and shaking-up how we work with data and share it.
Behind each of the figures we release are multiple data points (or units of information) and under this innovative new scheme we will be sharing all of this information with our regulators, the wider water industry and other interested parties - giving greater transparency and insight into water and wastewater in the UK.
We've already started working with six universities and two colleges, to aid research projects. Other water and wastewater companies have also signed up to this new system, which we call the DataWell.
How does this work?
Take leakage for example - using our new approach additional data such as the age of a property, the people who live there and the condition of an asset will be taken into account before a validated figure for leakage is produced.
It is our aim to produce a standardised data framework to calculate leakage and other issues, which other water companies can also use.
Crucially, this will give customers and regulators a consistent and robust set of data across the water industry.
Working together for water
We've taken inspiration from projects all over the world, including a similar collaboration in California, which saw a coalition of 20 water companies come together to share tools, and research in order to guide decisions on water management.
By having data integrated across water companies, we can work more efficiently - giving us more time to focus on helping our customers, the environment and wider society.
The future of data is very bright indeed.
Peter Jackson, Chief Data Officer
(source Southern Water)