Images from satellites are overlaid on geographical information systems to provide non-invasive indicators of leaking pipes for prioritising pipe replacement. The technology, provided by Utilis and known as MasterPlan, has been brought to the UK by SUEZ. It is perfect for water asset management planning.
Satellite imaging technology
Satellite imaging technology – used for over 20 years to detect the presence of water on distant planets – is helping our water company customers locate leaking pipes more effectively in the UK. They use satellites with L-band synthetic aperture radar (SAR) sensors on board. This is because of SAR’s day/night, cloudy/clear, capability along with the L-band signal’s ability to penetrate the first few meters of earth.
Satellites capture multiple SAR images of the entire pipe system and a unique algorithm scores pipe segments. Trained on five years of leaks discovered by Utilis, the algorithm assesses the deficiency of an entire pipe system using multiple SAR images.
MasterPlan provides utilities and engineers with insight into actual pipe condition. The algorithm scores pipe segments exhibiting non-surfacing leaks detected in one or more images. It is effective for all types and sizes of pipes. The pipes in the network are scored from one (no deficiency observed) to five (high deficiency observed). This non-invasive indicator of leaking pipes can prioritise the deployment of field teams, providing operational efficiencies.
A GIS dataset with deficiency levels assigned by pipe ID is provided. Compatible with all GIS and GIS-based asset management planning software, this pipe deficiency insight can be combined with data such as pipe age, material and work orders from surfacing leaks, refining pipe replacement planning models or water system master plans.