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FIDO announce leak detection breakthrough

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Powerful leak detecting artificial intelligence (AI) has advanced to the stage where it now calculates a leak’s size as well – providing a powerful new tool to transform leakage performance and water loss from public networks, say its developers. The breakthrough by FIDO Tech (FIDO), an Oxford-based firm, in collaboration with United Utilities, for the first time allows water companies to prioritise larger leaks for investigation and repair, and tackles the global issue of non-revenue water more effectively.

FIDO’s leak-detecting AI combines several unique processes to analyse the files generated by acoustic loggers and hydrophones. Unlike human processing, FIDO’s algorithms can filter out non-leak noises such as pumps, sudden high customer usage, nearby generators or traffic, which can trigger false alarms. It is already 92% accurate.

Now developers have used the growing amount of data in FIDO’s system to train its neural network algorithm to extract even more information from sound and kinetic sensor files.

The first of these – leak sizing – went live in December 2020 after trials in the North West of England with leakage teams working for United Utilities, and is now in day-to-day use. Each leakage file gets a unique FIDO ID to track through the whole workflow.

FIDO not only predicts whether an alarm is a leak or non-leak with accuracy, but it can also estimate whether the leak is large, medium or small. This allows leakage managers to send technicians straight to the largest leaks first.

More effective resource prioritisation

FIDO Chief Executive Officer, Victoria Edwards, said the development allowed water companies to prioritise and boost the effectiveness of resources to tackle water leaks more effectively than before.

“Our leak-sizing function officially went live on 4 December 2020 after three months of validation and testing and is now the business as usual approach for United Utilities. It’s being rolled out as we speak in Australia and is already attracting lots of interest in the US. FIDO is a Software as a Service (SaaS) offering and needs no integration, so can be operational and delivering results within 24 hours.

“Being able to grade leaks by size is a real breakthrough in leak detection, because it’s providing teams with that missing piece of the puzzle to get them right on the spot of their largest leaks first time with fewer wasted visits or expensive dry digs,” she said.

FIDO leak sizing is another aspect of the machine-learning capabilities of its algorithm. The company is one of the most successful alumni of United Utilities’ Innovation Lab.

Ongoing collaboration

The ongoing collaboration between FIDO and United Utilities continues to yield real-world results. Access to United Utilities’ DMA (district metered area) data enabled FIDO developers to train the algorithm to recognise and evaluate patterns in leak noise which indicate the size of the leak.

Over the course of three months, FIDO began to hone in on actual volumes of water being lost in individual leaks, by applying deep-learning principles to the raw data in sound files submitted by sensor alarms. Now, the size range within each of the small, medium and large denominations can be adjusted according to an individual network’s characteristics.

According to Edwards, leak sizing is the tip of the iceberg of possibilities that FIDO is bringing to leak detection as its elegant algorithm is trained to identify other patterns.

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