Yorkshire Water opens door to data for ‘citizen regulation’

Yorkshire Water to make data public
Yorkshire Water wants 'citizen regulators' to hold its performance to account

Yorkshire Water has announced that it aims to release the majority of its operational and service data by 2020, in a bid to increase transparency and boost operational performance, starting with a release of historic leakage data, acoustic leakage detection data and pollution incident data.

Following consultation with the public and data users, it will then commit to a two-year programme of data releases until it reaches an ‘open by default’ position – the first water company to do so.

To achieve this open data aim, the firm has partnered with the Open Data Institute (ODI) In Leeds, with the only exceptions being personal identifiable data and information with security implications.

In this way, the company aims to create a new cohort of ‘citizen regulators’, holding the company to account on its performance and stimulating innovation. In future, customers could create their own service dashboards, tracking the company’s performance in areas which matters to them the most.

Working with Leeds ODI, the company will hold a series of events to kick-start the open data process. On March 24, a one day workshop will give users their first look at the leakage data and will also ask them what Yorkshire Water’s priorities for future data release should be. This will coincide with the company publishing the full data set for its leakage performance for the last year on the Data Mill North. Yorkshire Water will profile its programme at the Leeds Digital Festival in April and will then hold a full hackathon in May working with the released data.

The hackathon will allow people who would not normally access the date to work with it, providing insights, innovation and new ideas and could aid to quicker detection and resolution of leakage.

Richard Flint, chief executive at Yorkshire Water, said: “By sharing data sets through Leeds ODI we want to encourage data scientists and analysts to become something akin to citizen auditors who are able to openly and freely monitor our performance and hold us to account.

“By 2020, it is our aim that all our operational data will be available for public scrutiny. This approach will also expand intelligence of our infrastructure, helping us to predict and prevent incidents, such as leakage, which is what our customers demand and deserve. We also want to collaborate with other agencies and authorities in the region to see if our data can be combined with theirs to benefit the communities we all serve.”