Innovation in action with Northumbrian Water Group: Wear is Wellness sprint

Innovation in action with Northumbrian Water Group: Wear is Wellness sprint

The personal safety and wellbeing of their people has always been a priority for Northumbrian Water, leading to an internal culture that proactively seeks out opportunities to maximise the physical and mental happiness of their team.  Working in hazardous environments, at heights or underground, brings with it risk, which can increase if coupled with common issues such as fatigue.

With the advent of wearables, specifically those with the ability to collect and transfer biometric data, there is now a promising avenue for digital innovation in wellbeing.  Wearables, such as the Apple watch, allow us to create an initial feedback loop of data, analysis and recommendations that will help alert employees of any potential medical or environmental issues which may negatively impact their wellbeing.

The TAPP watch app was born out of a concept from last year’s Innovation Festival and the Shout team have been proud to help Northumbrian Water bring it to life in a high-functioning prototype app. In the Wear is Wellness sprint at this year’s Festival, we focused on what the future roadmap for TAPP could look like and how the data collected can be used to make a real difference to the mental & physical health of Northumbrian Water’s employees

‘’We try to invest our money back into our operating regions wherever possible. The quality and value that Shout deliver makes that a very easy decision. We have worked with them over a period of 2-3 years now, developing apps for our customers and employees. They have been great to work with. We are now starting to innovate with them on the topic of employee health and safety. There isn’t anything more important in our business than getting everyone home safely every day. I am really looking forward to seeing what we can co-create’’
Nigel Watson
CIO, Northumbrian Water Group

Day One


Goal of day one:

  • To look at the TAPP App concept and story so far, involving feedback from the Field Service users who have been trialling the TAPP watch app, and look to the future and discuss the next phases and potential roadmap for development.

How we went about it:

  • Invited the Field Service TAPP trial participants to share their thoughts, feedback and experiences with the app so far.
  • Reviewed the data set we’d gathered from the Field Service workers to date
  • Discussed the barriers and opportunities for future development phases of the TAPP watch app
  • Deep-dived into the user personas for those who be using or benefitting from the watch app
  • Began to discuss requirements for future development phases of the TAPP watch app and a potential companion mobile app.

What we achieved:

  • Developed a deep understanding of the role of Field Service works at NWL and their workplace experiences
  • Identified sound high-level requirements for future phases of TAPP development.

Things we’re excited about for the sprint:

  • Really positive engagement from the NWL Field Service workers who are trialling the TAPP watch app, providing an insight into how it could benefit them on a day-to-day basis.
  • The potential opportunity as a result of the technology to make a positive impact on those undertaking physical and potentially dangerous tasks.

Day Two

Goal of day two:

  • To define and prioritise user requirements for future phases of TAPP and create a visual representation of the customer journey through customer journey mapping. In order to identify the various phases of evolution of the TAPP app.

How we went about it:

  • Took the feedback and knowledge we’d gathered from the field service workers in day one and identified requirements for TAPP app users and administrative staff.   
  • Prioritised requirements based on value and effort, identifying high value, low effort, requirements for the next phase of development and supporting business case
  • Began to create a visual story of how the user may interact with the TAPP app.

What we achieved:

  • Defined detailed user requirements for 3 stages of the App:
    1. Stage 1 – Entirely local monitoring of fatigue at an individual watch wearer level
    2. Stage 2 – Alerting Management when a Team Member is feeling fatigued to initiate ‘fatigue management actions’
    3. Stage 3 – Active monitoring of fatigue – large groups of Team Members all being actively monitored for fatigue and stress levels through wearable devices that link up with other systems, allowing for management of shift patterns based on individual fatigue levels.

Day Three

Goal of day three:

  • Complete final user journeys at a high level
  • Agree MVP requirements for the watch app
  • Understand the technical solution and machine learning model needed in order to deliver the MVP

How we went about it:

  • Technical representation was provided by both Shout and NWG teams for the day
  • The requirements were played back to provide context and understanding for the MVP
  • Each MVP requirement was reviewed and technical requirements to achieve them documented

What we achieved:

  • An understanding of next steps in the project;
    • the importance of collecting enough data from the current stage of the project so that, when running it through the machine learning model, we can correlate it
    • the need to better understand the current watch users 
  • Identified the technical requirements/dependencies needed to deliver the next stage(s) of the project which would enable us to estimate and cost the project as a whole – a requirement for the business case

Day Four

Goal of day four:

  • To pull together a business case for the agreed MVP of the next stage of the TAPP project, which will be pitched to the Northumbrian Water board

How we went about it:

  • Used the MVP requirements gathered across the week to identify the different streams of work needed to deliver them:
    • Grouping requirements and estimating effort across the deliverables
    • Creating an executive summary of the recommendations and proposed approach
    • Forming a business case
  • Pulled them together into a document which breaks down:
    • Individual deliverables
    • Effort to complete them
    • Cost to complete them
    • Assumptions and considerations for completing them

What we achieved:

A business case document that highlights:

    • The overall challenge
    • Our solution to solve it
    • The benefits and risks of the solution
    • The high-level cost of the solution
    • The timeline to deliver the solution 
    • A roadmap to success
“Shout Digital have been a great company to work with on this exciting project. Their expertise, can do attitude and teamwork is fantastic and they are really easy to do business with. From helping us develop concepts and user requirements through to launching the app and gathering the data, the technical support has been excellent throughout. I am really looking forward to working with Shout as we continue this very important workstream in helping our employees stay safe at work by managing fatigue in a new and innovative way.”
Brett Stinton
Head of HSEQ, Northumbrian Water Group

Reflecting back

It’s always a huge source of pride and satisfaction to be involved in the Innovation Festival.  Ideas are forged, collaboration abounds and the sheer breadth of game-changing concepts that emerge never fails to amaze.

Our work with the Northumbrian Water team this week has felt truly transformative.  Together, we’ve identified a roadmap for TAPP that can make a difference to the health and happiness of Northumbrian Water’s people – those sorts of outcomes are the reason we do what we do.  

We’re excited for the next TAPPter…