Sponsored data integration and expression project with Northumbrian Water – Get involved

#Hack Series 2016-2017 Event 2:

Discovering new data relationships and exploring how data analytics can work with new innovations in leak detection to provide better early prediction and detection.

Northumbrian Water Group (NWG), which includes Essex & Suffolk Water in the South East and Northumbrian Water in the North East of England, is currently exploring the potential of investing in a new leak detection analytics, technology and innovations. We are organising an exciting 2-day initiative to bring together data analysts/data scientists, mathematicians and expression specialists to creatively explore the challenge of improving leakage levels from our water distribution networks.

The hackathon is part of the NWG innovation festival, a high profile event being hosted at Newcastle Racecourse.  The festival is attracting over 400 participants daily from across the utilities, government and broader business communities.  The hackathon will run alongside a broader design sprint attracting organisations with relevant innovations, systems, hardware, both from within and outside the water industry and its supply chain. 

This is a great opportunity to forge direct links with organisations that can engage and potentially work with you to develop commercial solutions. And with the water industry’s research body (UK Water Industry Research, UKWIR) allocating future funding for leakage projects, this is a great opportunity to identify potential projects and demonstrate capabilities.

The hackathon will span two days and will take the form of a contest. Participants are welcome from the UK and overseas.  The initiative will see teams form and compete to see who can produce the best and most impactful data insights including data expression, mashup or visualization relating to our challenge.

Our goal is to discover analytics that can either:

  • Demonstrate new ways to effectively identify, or predict, leak locations – in particular ‘small leaks’
  • Support effective application of novel innovations and technology being developed in the complimentary design sprint.

We are using this event to identify relevant skills and potential commercial suppliers.

We are using this event to identify relevant skills and potential commercial suppliers.

The output of these events often include contract opportunities for successful participants. The event is open to all interested parties, and is part of a jointly funded project by Northumbrian Water Group and Microsoft.


Why participate?

Engage with one of the largest organisations in the North - NWG have an £800m turnover and invest heavily in regional skills, expertise and innovation. We are actively seeking enterprising organisations that can help us resolve complex problems.

Collaborate with other disciplines and organisations - Hackathons are a great way to meet and work with a wider range of stakeholders. Present will be professional application developers, business leaders, academics and researchers as well as other groups.

Help to solve a scale real world challenges - We are working to ensure our future services are safe, secure and offer best value to the public. Your involvement not only supports your local community but potentially could establish data innovations that have application across utility or infrastructure management.

Commercial potential and profile – Leakage is a major issue faced by water utilities across the globe.  We are offering companies a unique opportunity to co-create commercial solutions with companies that have relevant sensors, systems and tools.


The opportunity

This initiative reflects our vision to be the leading provider of sustainable water and wastewater servicers in the UK. The water industry is under intense pressure to reduce costs and improve services.
Our goal is to focus on precise identification of leak locations and ‘smaller’ water leaks. Smaller leaks are hard to detect and to resolve economically, and represents the 'hard problem' in leakage economics.

We want to facilitate better prediction of location focus, priority for maintenance/ replacement, as well as actual detection and accurate location through novel analytics.  The results could save time, money and effort as well as reducing disruption to service and to daily lives.

We want you to help us define and demonstrate the potential savings that could be made through new ways of integrating and analysing data.

The resulting models and tools will belong to you. We may well wish to invest with you in developing some of these for application with our technical solutions partners and are ensuring a process is in place to take selected ideas forward. Leakage is an area the water industry takes seriously – research funding is available through UKWIR and other initiatives.


Principal challanges:

To create and demonstrate (via a pilot demonstrator and visualisation), practical application of novel analytics and or intelligence solutions; and to consider how these could be extensions to leakage detection and prediction systems. Specifically delivering one or more of the following:

  1. Support enhanced or more effective area leakage prediction
  2. Establish extensions to existing leakage detection systems, or develop new complimentary tools
  3. Collaborate and work with novel system and hardware ideas/ developments being established in the adjacent innovation design sprint.


Please develop your project at the event (or online), submit project through Devpost, and participate in the Thursday pitching and judging.

In order to be eligible for prizes, you must submit through Devpost and participate in judging on Thursday (If you are an 'inperson' event participant)!

Participants: Individuals (over 18 years in age);

Teams:  Upto 10 people attending per organisation

Organizations: Any size

Countries: United Kingdom and overseas welcome

You must register to attend the NWG Festival of Innovation.  Details will be provided on registration.


Usefulness in better supporting leakage prediction and detection performance 

How does the  concept effectively support operational leakage management and decision making?

  • Practicality in application
    How useful is the report in its intended real world situation and / or in systems application.
  • Completion of evidence solution
    How complete or polished the report is.
  • Novelty 
    How unique and innovative is the report in application
  • Data expression and usability
    How well-designed is the report, paying attention to user experience and user interface

Hackathon Sponsors


£5,000 in prizes

Overall winner

The best, most impactful and applicable solution

Best Data visualisation

The most novel and informative expression of leakage data

New Insight

The leakage fact (from data insight) that leakage experts didn’t know about!

Sponsored places (8)

Sponsorship is available for eight participants. This is a cash contribution towards cost of teams time. Competitive request, details available on request.

Devpost Achievements

Submitting to this hackathon could earn you:

How to enter

If you are interested in participating, simply ENTER HERE


If you have any questions please contact Paul Sutherland, Innovation consultant, (T:07738 284 310) or email paul.sutherland@nwl.co.uk, or Michael Hull (T:07964575334) or email michael.hull@nwl.co.uk.

The initiative is sponsored by Microsoft, with the main event running across two days from the 12-13 July (Prize ceremony on the 14th) and will be led by the Performance & Information team at NWG supported by +ADD Strategy our innovation partner, along with a number of postgraduate researchers with an interest in big data, data analytics and data exploration and expression.

There will be an opportunity for analytics product exploration 11th July, where Microsoft will demonstrate MS Azure capabilities. This is a chance for participants to test-drive MS products, with an additional prize for best output using MS Azure technology during the main hack event.

Aspects of the data will be closed and others open. Those close will be in-person and data will only be released onsite.

Technical details and open data will be available via our hackathon site www.reducing-leakage.devpost.

The event will be hosted at the Newcastle Racecourse, High Gosforth Park, Newcastle upon Tyne NE3 5HP and will support distributed work and support from a wider community including Microsoft. Participants will be invited to join the space and work in a secure way on the data.

Further NWG systems and BI specialists will be on hand during the data hack to assist with questions arising during the experiment.

Needless to say on signing up and undertaking confidentiality terms, a document outlining the detailed challenge and the rules of the competition in more detail will be released.

A few sponsored places:

In recognition of the opportunity cost of participating for 2 days, NWG are providing a contribution £500 of 8 sponsored places.  Please indicate your interest in securing this funding in the application form.

Prizes and Judging:

  • First prize: £500
  • Second prize: £250
  • Judges and criteria will be announced on DEVPOST.



Nigel Watson

Nigel Watson
CIO/ Northumbrian Water

Dennis Dellow

Dennis Dellow
Leakage Programme Lead, UKWIR and Technical Consultant, Northumbrian Water

Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland
Innovation Consultant/ +ADD Strategy

Michael Hull

Michael Hull
Performance & Information/ Northumbrian Water

Judging Criteria

  • • Practicality in application (0-20)
    How useful is the report in its intended real world situation
  • • Completion of evidence solution (0-20)
    How complete or polished the report is.
  • • Novelty (0-20)
    How unique and innovative is the report in application
  • • Data expression and usability (0-20)
    How well-designed is the report, paying attention to user experience and user interface

Questions? Email the hackathon manager

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