Sotto® Vibration Sensors: Listening for Network Leaks at South East Water

November 25, 2020

Sotto® is a key innovation in South East Water’s (SEW) critical work to reduce non-revenue water losses due to hidden leaks on SEW’s network.

SEW’s Sotto® program involves the development of high-performance vibration sensors that are small enough and cost effective enough to be packaged within a digital water meter installed on commercial and residential properties. While digital meters will identify leaks on the consumer’s property Sotto® is instead tuned to detect water leaks on SEW’s infrastructure before the leak reaches the surface where it invariably is reported by the public or potentially develops into a mains burst emergency.

The Sotto® sensor has been in development and testing for over three years and is currently at a commercial level quality and undergoing trials installed within digital water meters. The trials are on actual in-field leaks and are focused on determining Sotto®’s ability to detect and report those leaks. In addition, the trials are studying the impact of pipe materials, understanding the likely sensor distribution density of any large-scale network deployment and interpreting the generated data and how it may be used to increase Sotto®’s effectiveness.

The Sotto® device takes multiple vibration readings during the quietest part of the night and assesses them against a pre-determined threshold before sending alerts to operations teams via the digital meter’s reporting payload. Various actions and algorithms are applied to mitigate against false positive signals. Leak vibration signals depend on several variables including distance, pipe material and leak size among others.

Sotto® has detected vibration signals at 80m and, when leaks are detected on multiple sensors simultaneously, can support triangulation to approximate the leak location. Where there is no leak a very low noise floor on the sensor ensures a leak signal is not lost within the noise and minimizes the chance for false positives.

Trials to date have exceeded expectations with Sotto®’s performance similar to or better than benchmark commercial leak detection ‘listening sticks’. Sotto® has shown the capability to detect a majority of SEW’s network leaks. Further development work is underway to improve Sotto®’s sensitivity on challenging small leaks and pipe materials such as UPVC that attenuates vibrations

A patent has been submitted and is pending.

The program is now approaching final trials with the deployment of 1,000 Sotto® embedded digital meters in mid-2020 and another 4,500 in late 2020.

To read the full paper, you can download it HERE.



You might also like

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit.


Water Utility ChallengesDigital Utility LeversLentic® Enablers
Water scarcity from climate change and population growthReduce water wastage by identifying network leaksEnable an integrated ecosystem that leverages machine intelligence
Meet and exceed environmental regulatory requirementsIncrease digital monitoring of water value chain to improve water quality and reduce environmental impactEnhance data quality and quantity to support regulatory reporting and transparency


Water Utility Challenges Digital Utility Levers Lentic® Enablers
Rising customer expectations Provide customers with relevant on-demand insights through preferred channels, enabling better service experiences Built-in domain knowledge delivers on-demand customisable insights to customers
Affordability Reduce water services costs through innovative demand management and enhanced operational efficiency Support automation of key business processes to enhance customer service delivery and reduce demand


Water Utility Challenges Digital Utility Levers Lentic® Enablers
Optimise asset life and reduce operating costs Visualise performance and manage asset lifecycle in real time while reducing the need to fund additional infrastructure Domain rules applied to predict unknown disruption across assets, by providing high volume of data
Reduce non-revenue water losses Automate identification of network leaks to enable rapid and cost-effective fault resolution Enable integration of field device data across enterprise systems to manage utility response to network leaks and faults
Protect asset security Provide a safe and resilient operating environment reducing cyber risks to critical infrastructure Security policy and controls are in place to support continuous monitoring efforts in line with ISO0227001