Hacking sewage

How we helped Wessex Water respond to sewage incidents

November 2018

Bath:Hacked were recently invited to a private hackathon by Wessex Water which asked the question "What can you tell us about sewerage incidents that might help us reduce pollution and flooding?"

Yeah yeah I know, cue poo jokes... unless you're one of the people who experience it.

The company provided us anonymised data detailing five years of sewage incidents, and we were challenged alongside two University teams to see if there were patterns in the data the company could learn from.

It was a fascinating dataset, and we formed a small team that spent the last month looking at the data.

I'm pleased to say our insights won top prize on the day.

Sadly I can't share more of what we learned... yet. Wessex Water is keen to look at open data's power for change, and whilst this hack was closed (and subject to NDA), they want to use it as a blueprint for larger events in the future.

All the teams found some useful patterns in the data, and it also gave us a chance to demo some of the cutting edge tools available to help improve the company's understanding of its own data.

Kepler.gl has yet again proven its power with location data.

My team mate Mark Owen broke all the rules of presentations, and gave a gutsy live demo using Kepler to explore the connectedness of sewage events. It gave the company a sense of how the latest visualisation technology can be used to guide their response to sewage incidents.

Our final recommendations included suggestions to further explore some areas with repeat incidents and ways to improve the quality and management of their data. Like any organisation wanting to create more insight from its data, Wessex Water need to treat data as an asset.

Like the physical network its already maintaining, its data is infrastructure that supports its operations.

Companies should open up more data. Amazing things can happen :)

More details are on the Bath:Hacked blog.

Wessex Water Hackathon

Our team (left to right): Yours truly, Bath:Hacked Chair Leigh Dodds, who's staring lovingly at Mark Owen - our Kepler maestro