Reviewing water companies' progress on open data


Author: Lisa Commane, Senior Director of Business Improvement

Open data web bigger

Ofwat is committed to improving the water sector for customers, society and the environment. Our strategy sets out the need for transformation in the sector and the opportunity for using more open data to achieve that.

Open data has the potential to help transform the sector – helping to bring solutions to the table, holding companies to account and supporting a deeper understanding about the water system we rely on every day.

Just over a year ago we published H2Open – a case for change 

This was the culmination of conversations with the sector, the Open Data Institute (ODI) and lots of other interested parties about the power of open data.

We identified that there was some good work already happening to make water company data more accessible to others. There was also more that could be done. Wee issued a call to action for water companies to make tangible progress within a year. We wanted to supercharge that conversation…

We think there is an even stronger demand for open data in water than there was a year ago – from a range of stakeholders including the public.

  • Many more people are acutely aware of the challenges facing the water and wastewater system we rely on every day – climate change (droughts and floods), population growth and demographic change.
  • People are hugely concerned about the state of our seas and our rivers.
  • Together we all need to ensure we are using water effectively – including companies continuing to reduce leakage and for everyone to take action as users of water to use less and use it wisely. Open data can help change behaviour and for people to see for themselves what progress is being made on issues that matter.

A year on from H2Open we kicked off our open data review in October.

We want this review to achieve several objectives. We want it to:

  • enable the sector to make even more progress on open data – by providing time for reflection and learning on the important theme of making data accessible;
  • understand from the public and stakeholders what they would like to see companies doing differently or more of;
  • help us all to understand where water companies currently are on their open data journey compared with a year ago and compared with other sectors – with a view to companies identifying practical further steps and learning that they can harness next and continue to develop; and
  • identify good practice that will foster more collaboration and sector wide improvement.

We want the review to be meaningful, clear and understandable to a range of stakeholders.

Early in the new year we will use the findings of this review to shape our decision making as a regulator and next steps on the sectors’ open data journey.

This review, and our next steps in the new year, are not the end of our open data journey, so we encourage you to stay engaged. We will continue to press companies to release more and better quality data sets with accompanying narrative.

As part of the open data review, we have been asking for your views on open data. We’d welcome your views by 16 December 2022 via our open data webpage. Or please get in touch to register your interest in hearing more about our review and next steps in 2023.