Testing the waters on an innovative solution

Transport March 28, 2019

RSK has been successful at winning entry into a Transport for London (TfL) innovation competition called RoadLab. TfL, one of the biggest integrated transport systems in the world, is looking for original solutions to minimise the impact of roadworks in the city, which cause delays on London’s roads, costing over £2 billion each year. A solution developed by RSK’s innovative geophysics team is to use Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) in novel ways to help locate water leaks in the ground from leaking water pipes. On average, around 1,500 water leaks are being fixed every week in the Thames region, but up to 1 in 5 holes that are dug do not correctly find the leak. Using the new GPR technology, in combination with existing acoustic technology, will help to reduce the number of unnecessary holes and reduce the amount of roadworks required.

“Currently GPR is widely used in geophysical surveys, in particular for PAS128 utility surveys, to support street works. However, the survey data is only used to detect the location of buried infrastructure. The potential application in leak detection has not been addressed and would be a major innovation,” states innovation lead and RSK principal geophysicist, Matt Stringfellow. “We have already had trials with a number of water companies and our research to date has shown that hidden water leaks in the ground can be successfully detected under certain conditions”. The biggest test will be a complex urban environment. “If we can isolate the location of water leaks in such environments,” continues Matt, “it will offer a step change in helping to reduce water leakage.” As RSK is an environmental consultancy with innovation and sustainability at its heart, and with WaterAid as its chosen charity, helping save this valuable resource in the UK, and potentially worldwide, could have a profound impact.

One of the most exciting things about London RoadLab is that for the first time, TfL is stating what the problem is, but isn’t defining the solution – it’s letting the innovators do that, which is an entirely new process. London RoadLab is a 10-week programme over which RSK will develop its GPR solution: testing the equipment, including a state-of-the-art, multi-channel, vehicle-towed GPR antenna, in a range of real-world environments. During the process, RSK will also refine the workflows and data processing to provide a streamlined service. At the end of the 10-week programme, RSK will pitch the honed product to TfL and its utility partners, such as Thames Water, who will hopefully want to scale up and use the solution to tackle the huge issue of reducing water leakage.

For more information, visit the RoadLab website.

We recognise the Scottish Government’s strength of ambition and welcome the opportunity to support it through the application of our crosssectoral and multidisciplinary knowledge, skills and experience to align business initiatives with environmental objectives. We seek to empower Scotland’s climate change champions to drive innovation and profit, while promoting biodiversity, minimising water use, reducing emissions and enhancing the resilience and adaptive capabilities of commercial endeavours.

Strong and sustainable growth should not come at the expense of the environment; but rather businesses should be empowered to realise their potential to deliver true sustainability. At RSK,we look forward to helping to deliver that potential by identifying climate change opportunities to develop climate change champions.

For more information, please contact
Danielle King: RSK, Unit 11 Beta Centre, Stirling
University Innovation Park, Stirling FK9 4NF, UK
Tel: +44 (0)7918 887713
Email: dking@rsk.co.uk