DRIPIN - Determining RIsk of Pipe failure using InSAR

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Objectives of the service

The UK water industry is heavily regulated by the Office of Water Services (OFWAT), with significant fines (or rewards) being issued for under (or over) performance as part of the sector’s Outcome Delivery Incentive. During 2018-19 the sector incurred £108 million of underperformance payments, of which £69 million was incurred for underperformance on leakage, supply interruptions, internal sewer flooding, and pollution incidents. Inspection and monitoring of the network is challenging and costly, and maintenance budgets are stretched. Pipe failure risk modelling is used to prioritise maintenance efforts, based on a multitude of data, including pipe parameters and third party data.

Direct ground movement measurements are currently not included in this risk modelling. SatSense has a country wide ground movement product able to measure movement rates down to 1 mm/year with high resolution. The objective of this project is to identify movements relevant to pipe failure risk and include this data into strategic modelling and operational workflows of water utilities and  contractors.

Users and their needs

The targeted customers and users are water utilities and their contractors. SatSense data will allow them to:

  • Make better long term strategic maintenance decisions based on strategic risk modeling
  • Take action based on short-term changes in ground movement based on water infrastructure specific ground movement maps
  • Use these same maps to inform maintenance crews and inspectors whether ground movement is a like cause of a failed pipe

This will lead to a better informed decision making process and a more targeted approach to pipe maintenance and failure repair, preventing events and reducing costs.

Service/ system concept

SatSense processes all available ESA Sentinel-1 data over the UK and converts this into ground movement products. There are over 700 million measurement points over the UK, all kept up-to-date with newly acquired data. Each measurement point has long term movement rates accurate to 1 mm/year, and a full time history of movement measurements with a measurement frequency of six days.

This ground movement data contains valuable information for water utilities, which we extract by further post-processing. This will feed into an online visualisation platform accessible from anywhere with an internet connection for use by crews in the field and in operational settings. These data products will also feed into the strategic failure risk modelling, improving the prioritisation of pipe maintenance and reducing failure rates.

Space Added Value

SatSense uses radar data from the Sentinel-1 satellite constellation to infer ground movements and create our ground movement product. As part of the processing, SatSense corrects for topography, for which they use the Copernicus Digital Elevation Model, which is derived from various satellites by ESA.

Current Status

The study kicked off in March 2021. The company has been actively engaged with two water utilities and a tier 1 contractor to build the business case, discuss risk modelling approaches and start data sharing. They have had several productive meetings, attended by relevant personnel, including Innovation Managers, Asset Managers and Information services & platforms managers.

SatSense obtained network and failure data from two water utilities, and expect to receive data from a third shortly. The map shows an overview of SatSense ground movement data together with part of the sewage network of one of the involved water utilities, showing excellent network coverage by the ground movement product. A data format for sharing ground movement products with the water utilties was agreed upon, and sample product in the next weeks are being provided to the water utilities by SatSense in the next weeks. 

SatSense is currently focused on improving the business case and refining the pipe failure specific ground movement product. The product will allow SatSense to quantify model improvement, which in turn will allow them to estimate the value of the product.

Prime Contractor(s)

Status Date

Updated: 21 June 2021 - Created: 21 June 2021