A new project known as Stream is soon to get underway, thanks to a funding injection from the Water Breakthrough Challenge run by regulator Ofwat and innovation foundation Nesta.
In all, £800,000 has been provided so that Yorkshire Water and other companies can develop a new open data sharing platform for the water sector.
The idea is that all water companies in the UK will be able to collaborate and share data insights with industry and the wider public, with the aim being to help innovators develop deeper insights, improve services and make more informed decisions.
Other companies involved include Anglian Water, Scottish Water, United Utilities, Thames Water, South West Water, Southern Water, Costain, Severn Trent, SES Water, Scottish Water, Northumbrian Water and Dwr Cymru.
Carol White, manager of data science at Yorkshire Water, said: “We’re already embracing an open data approach wherever we can – for example, we are increasing transparency around storm overflow discharge data by moving towards near real time spill alerting. However, this project will allow us, and the rest of the industry, to go one step further.
“It will pave the way for more clarity, new innovations and quicker learnings by allowing our data to be scrutinised by industry peers and our customers.”
The second round of the Water Breakthrough Challenge itself opened in October last year, with two streams of funding available for schemes to deliver benefits for customers, society and the environment.
The Ofwat Innovation Fund is a £200 million programme that intends to drive innovation in the sector, tackling some of the biggest challenges it faces.
It aims to meet its goals by accelerating the rollout of innovative products, services and concepts, by growing the capacity and capabilities for innovation and by embedding a culture that values, supports and encourages innovation.
Pressures now facing the sector include the climate emergency, population growth and more volatile weather events. Ofwat previously identified five key areas to focus on, including responding and adapting to climate change, as well as how to meet the ambition of net zero emissions.
Another key area of focus was the restoration of the ecological status of water environments, protecting customers from the impacts of pollution and extreme weather, now and into the future.
Ofwat is also keen to see greater understanding of long-term operational resilience and infrastructure risks to both the environment and customers, identifying solutions that can mitigate these both sustainably and efficiently.
And, as has been seen with this latest development with Stream, Ofwat also wants to explore the opportunities presented by open data to stimulate innovation and collaboration in the Water Efficiency market and to drive down ater consumption and waste water discharge in the UK.