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Scottish Water

Understanding Domestic Water Consumption with Acorn

"CACI’s data scientists are profiling experts and they share sector knowledge with us as well as providing modelling expertise. Our partnership directly supports Scottish Water strategy and operations, helping us work towards carbon neutral status and improve sustainability as well as delivering value for customers."

Martin Walton, Asset Planner, Scottish Water

The Challenge

Scottish Water has been working with CACI for over ten years to deliver accurate models that help predict and review household water consumption.

Martin Walton, Asset Planner at Scottish Water explains the challenge: “There are hardly any domestic water meters in Scotland. So we have had to find other ways to stratify our customer base. Using Acorn data, we have built and refined models over the years that give us a clear view of how water is being used. We need this information to help us reduce water consumption by monitoring and controlling leakage, testing and maintaining network assets and influencing consumer behaviour.”

The Approach

Acorn data is often associated with marketing, product development and service planning and optimisation. But for Scottish Water, it’s the foundation of a sophisticated model that determines expected usage in locations across Scotland. The insight helps operations and engineering teams to prioritise their activities and pinpoint key areas for investigation.

Scott Young, Leakage Delivery Team Leader at Scottish Water, describes the approach: “In terms of water supply, Scotland is divided into over 3,000 areas, each with a district meter. We inform supply / demand analysis within these areas using our Acorn model. We compare district meter flows to those within the Acorn model to see whether actual water usage is similar to the projected household demand for that area. When there’s a difference, we can investigate whether this is because of unrecorded usage, network anomalies or leakage.”

Martin Walton adds, “The modelled per household consumption dataset has proved to be a very accurate predictor of consumption for the domestic properties we supply.”

The Results

Scott Young says, “With the Acorn data, we’ve been able to break down demand by area to understand the opportunity for leakage reduction. Using big data in the digital space is quite a radical change from the traditional mainstream approach to leakage detection. Now, we can identify areas of concern with a high degree of accuracy, even in areas with plastic pipes, where traditional soundings to find leakage are less effective.”

“We look at the typical usage profile based on zone control groups that we measure and sample from; we build out models for every area using detailed data from Acorn. This combined approach produces a very accurate flow pattern and a strong benchmark comparator. We refine the model further by taking into account factors that influence peaks and troughs or that could be causing leakage.

“The data modelling also helps us to spot issues with valves at the district boundary. When anomalies appear in area flow measurements compared to the model, we can see where a district is breached and water is leaving.

We confirm this by checking data relating to adjacent districts, where that water may be going. These are priority issues to fix so it’s really valuable to identify them quickly.”

“When I send a team out on the ground to locate and fix a problem identified via the Acorn data model, we have a very high degree of confidence that we’ll find it where we predicted. That means we can detect and stop leaks more quickly and efficiently.”

Further information

To find out more about how Scottish Water is leveraging Acorn, read the full case study here

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