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Water assets and networks: geospatial data representation for modelling and monitoring

Application closing date 2 July 2018, employment start date 1 October 2018
STREAM: Industrial Doctorate Centre for the Water Sector
Newcastle University
Water assets are often poorly documented making maintenance and performance assessment difficult. This project will develop a common geospatial platform for the integrated capture, management and modelling of water company asset and network data to underpin a new "digital twin" capability for asset operation. This platform will allow the “digital twin” to use the power of data driven digital technologies to test radical new ideas and simulate intervention strategies. The successful candidate will work with Northumbrian Water to embed the geospatial platform within the companies’ operational framework to evaluate the utility of a geospatial data driven approach to innovative business planning. Existing spatial database technologies are not well suited to implementing a large, open and flexible system required to fulfil existing company needs.  The new approach should address two requirements: (1) Geospatial data of assets must be "functional" embodying network spatial dependences and topology, rather than simply GIS layers suitable only for mapping and visualisation.  (2) Such data and associated database technology must enable interactive access by simulation models (for supply, drainage, maintenance, flood etc.). This access should be flexible, comprehensive, and two way, thereby allowing updating. The main research challenge is to match the diverse functional requirements to a new type of spatial database for water infrastructure assets. This will require not only an understanding of the asset types, and the various available technologies for data capture and management, but also an appreciation of the end-user needs. The development of such a capability is complicated by the requirement for scaleability, from an initial development for a single urban conurbation (e.g., Newcastle) to a system that can manage the entire spatial envelope of the company.

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