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Northumbrian Water -


Northumbrian Water provides water and sewerage services to 2.7 million people living in a large area of around 9,422km2. They were interested in designing ways of preventing blockages, which cost millions, to rectify.

This project had been initially undertaken by the undergraduate Design for Industry students and Northumbrian Water wished to pass this on to the MDI team to take further. The MDI group applied their creative approach to problem-solving, by developing a range of behavioural initiatives to tackle the issue of blocked sewage and flooding.

Watercaseimage (4)The Design opportunity:

Flushing the wrong items down the toilet or using the kitchen sink to dispose of waste such as cooking fat, can block drains and lead to flooding. This causes misery for households affected and complications for Northumbrian Water. However, as the problem is largely invisible until disaster strikes, persuading customers to act differently is challenging. Northumbrian Water sought the help of the multidisciplinary team to develop creative solutions and prevention strategies in order to facilitate behaviour change.

The Project:

The MDI students were given four themes to investigate, an animation, a game/app, an innovation bin solution and a series of roadshows. During the project the students identified the main opportunity was a need for behavioural change among service users and for solutions to be sustainable they would have to be designed with this as the core goal. All solutions were heavily research - informed, fully costed and designed to complement Northumbrian Water's already successful 'love your drain' campaign.

The Result:

After presenting findings to the client, the MDI group were invited to Northumbrian Water Headquarters to pitch to Board Members and Directors. A number of recommendations were set to be implemented relating to the strategies, ideas and designs.

"Changing behaviour is critical to preventing flooding so it's important to talk to customers about the cause.  Working with the MDI team on our 'love your drain' campaign has provided us with fresh perspectives on how to engage with customers and we've been hugely impressed with their work.  We look forward to continuing work with the MDI team to bring some of these projects to live."

Elaine Erskine, Technical Strategy Manager for Northumbrian Water

Course info

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 1 year full-time

Location Northern Design Centre

City Newcastle

Start September 2024

Fee Information

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