Photo: University of Exter
University of Exeter engineers have
pioneered new methods for detecting leaky pipes and identifying flood risks
with technologies normally used for computer game graphics and artificial intelligence.
techniques could help to identify water supply and flooding problems more
quickly than ever before, potentially saving people from the traumatic
experience of flooding or not having water on tap.
new techniques have been presented by a team from the University of Exeter’s
Center for Water Systems.
methods for detecting leaks often result in false, so-called ‘ghost’ alarms. University of Exeter engineers have developed a new
approach, based on technology originally developed in the field of artificial intelligence.
The new technology is implemented as a piece of software located on a computer
in the control room of a water company. The software continuously receives and
processes data coming from the flow and pressure sensors installed in the water
system. It then searches for anomalies indicating the presence of the leak.
When a potential problem is identified, an alarm is generated to notify the
control room operator. The operator also receives information on the likely
location of the leak and suggestions of immediate actions to take to isolate
games rely on a powerful graphics processing unit (GPU) to draw complex scenes
in real time. From the first games with flat, 8-bit graphics, the power of GPUs
has grown to support the current 3D graphics that feature life-like effects. University of Exeter researchers have developed
methods for using this technology to assess and visualize flood risks much
faster than it has been possible ever before. Water companies and local
authorities could soon be using this technology to help them identify problems
and react to them to reduce risks and potential consequences.
Zoran Kapelan of the University of Exeter’s Center for Water Systems says: “Each day the
water industry collects, treats, and supplies more than 17 billion liters of
water carried across 335,000 km of mains. To maintain this phenomenal operation
the water companies need to continually improve their systems. We are using the
latest artificial intelligence and computer gaming technologies to help them
find ways of identifying leaks and other problems faster than ever before.”
His colleague Professor Dragan
Savic, Director of the Center for Water Systems, adds: “Clean drinking water,
safe disposal of sewerage, and the safety of our homes from flooding are
something we take for granted in this country. But these services are the
result of a huge, complex operation that requires considerable investment so
research like this is essential.”