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Global engineering challenge to tackle £900m water leakage problem

06 September 2017

RS Components and Legal & General (L&G) issued an open call to the world’s engineering and maker community with a new IoT design competition.

The ‘LeakKiller Challenge’ 

RS and Legal & General are offering a £15,000 prize for the best design prototype of a low-cost, open source IoT leakage detection and warning system. Ultimately, the goal is to turn the winning design(s) into an end-product that can be installed by Legal & General customers to protect their homes and belongings from leaks and reduce their insurance premiums/excess. 

The insurance industry has seen a 4 percent rise in the average cost of water leakage claims over the last three years. According to Association of British Insurers (ABI) nearly one in five claims made on buildings and contents insurance were for damage caused by leaks; with insurers paying out around £2.5m every day in claims. These figures apply to the UK alone, so the cost calculated on a global level would be stratospheric.

As well as the huge financial costs and serious damage water leakage incidents cause, there is also the human factor - the stress of sourcing an emergency plumber and the serious disruption caused when families must vacate their homes for months while repairs take place.

RS and Legal & General believe that these issues could be avoidable through the innovative application of the Internet of Things and other complementary technologies. The LeakKiller Challenge is designed to inspire this innovation and identify inexpensive ways to detect leaks in our homes, for example, using sensors underneath key appliances. Any entry must address one or more of the following three challenge criteria. 

1. Detecting flow: detect ‘unusual activity’ – e.g. water flowing for longer periods than normal
2. Detecting and monitoring leaks: detect the presence of water in areas where it shouldn’t be – e.g. under appliances, etc.
3. Shutting off supply: automatic/remote shut-off of water supply to avoid damage to the home (and perhaps power shut off)

Maarten Ectors, Chief Digital Officer – GI, Legal & General commented: “Many water leakage claims happen when frozen pipes burst in the winter, but there are plenty of other reasons why leaks occur - poorly-installed washing machines or dishwashers, water seeping out from under the bath or shower, or leaky storage tanks in the loft. By initiating the LeakKiller Challenge it’s our goal to harness the power of open source engineering and productise an IoT solution that will, in time, actively prevent leakage incidents from happening and bring down the cost of home insurance for our customers.” 

Mike Bray, Vice President of DesignSpark at RS added: “There are already certain leak detection solutions in the market, but these can be very expensive, both to buy and have professionally fitted, and they’re just warning systems that don’t prevent any damage being done. Through the LeakKiller Challenge we want engineers, makers, students, etc. to embrace the open source hardware and software philosophy and be inspired to create something truly low-cost and simple to install. With a community of more than 570,000 registered members, and rising, DesignSpark is the perfect platform to host this kind of Challenge. It’s exciting to be tackling a meaningful, real-world problem, and to that effect we’re asking for a serious commitment from entrants. We don’t want vague unproven concepts, we’re looking for full design files alongside a working design and demo video.”

Entrants to the LeakKiller Challenge are encouraged, but not limited, to use the full suite of free DesignSpark software tools and design support resources – available at designspark.com.

The deadline for entries is 27 November 2017 and the winner will be announced in January 2018. 

For more details and the full terms and conditions of entry please visit https://www.rs-online.com/designspark/leakkiller-challenge


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