Ofwat challenges UK water companies to make ‘tangible progress’ on Open Data

Ellie Duncan
12 Jun 2023

UK regulatory body Ofwat has set out several “clear and urgent” actions for water companies to take to open up their data, including the publication of a roadmap by October this year for Open Data delivery for the industry.

Ofwat has identified eight key areas that require “immediate action” by water utilities after it found they had made “little progress” in opening datasets, despite public support.

In its 2021 report ‘H2Open, Open data in the water industry: a case for change’, Ofwat reported that there would be significant benefits to customers, the environment and society from water companies opening their data.

The regulator undertook a review of progress made by water companies in Autumn 2022, with the results published in a new paper, ‘Open data in the water industry: making the change’.

Among the other actions Ofwat has called for in its latest paper is for water companies to identify priority data sets for release, as well as review datasets that have so far only been shared with limited groups and make them openly available.

Ofwat revealed it is developing a new licence condition that will give it new powers to “to take action against water companies that are not making sufficient progress in this area”.

Ofwat’s chief operating officer Lisa Commane said the regulator is challenging companies to “show proactive leadership” in opening up their data.

“Ofwat, together with the public, expects to see water companies making tangible progress towards the establishment of an open and trustworthy data ecosystem,” she said.

“This needs to happen now and we will look to underpin this with new Ofwat powers where progress falters.”

Commane added: “Learning from other sectors shows that as well as having established data infrastructure, companies must embed a stronger data culture, bring capability and skills into the sector and improve collaboration to speed up delivery.

“We expect water companies to be able to demonstrate more evidence of tangible progress during 2023 and 2024.”