Award win for underground mapping project

A revolutionary project which helps to keep utility workers safe has scooped two prizes at a national awards ceremony.

Northumbrian Water was awarded the two prestigious prizes at the 10th Anniversary Water Industry Forum Awards for their work on the National Underground Asset Register project (also known as NUAR).

NUAR, which was developed at the water company’s Innovation Festival, is a digital map of all pipes and cables hidden under the ground – showing utility workers the exact location and layout of what’s under their feet. This helps to reduce the time taken to carry out excavation work and the amount of potentially-deadly utility strikes.

Over four million holes per year are dug across the UK, and NUAR will have a huge impact on making sure that the number of these that resulted in utility strikes is significantly reduced. This is set to help utility groundwork to be carried out more quickly and efficiently, and could save the UK economy up to £1.2billion.

Since the idea was born at the festival in 2017, then properly developed at the event in 2018, the project has gathered momentum and is now being delivered on a national scale after being adopted by the UK Government. The nationally-renowned project was given the societal impact award, and also took home the prize for best overall innovation at the glitzy awards ceremony at the DoubleTree Hilton in Leeds.

Angela MacOscar, Head of Innovation at Northumbrian Water, and Clive Surman-Wells, who has lead on the project since the beginning, accepted the awards on behalf of the company.

Angela said: “The NUAR project really is the jewel in our innovation crown, and I am absolutely thrilled that it has been recognised by the Water Industry Forum at these prestigious awards.

“It started as a seed of an idea with us at our Innovation Festival, and now it is just growing from strength to strength – and we are all incredibly proud of it.

“Not only does this project make a difference to our customer services, but it can also be used to help and keep our people safe, which is ultimately the most important thing.

“So, just a huge thank you to the Water Industry Forum for inviting us to be a part of the event.”

The Innovation Festival is returning for 2022, and innovators will be returning to work on similar topics such as safety, water scarcity and water poverty.

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