AN IDEA which will help to protect the North East's waterways and improve rural internet connectivity at the same time, could be transformed into a reality, thanks to an innovative Wearside company.

Northumbrian Water, CGI and the Water Hub have appointed digital fabrication company, FabLab Sunderland to help them get their ‘Dragonfly' water sensor idea into a working prototype by September.

FabLab, which can digitally design an idea and bring it to life using 3D printers and laser cutters, will be exploring the best options for creating Dragonfly - water sensors and communications technology which can collect and monitor real-time information from rivers and streams, as well as enhancing wireless connectivity.

The idea for Dragonfly was first developed at Northumbrian Water's Innovation Festival last year.

Since then, the two companies have teamed up with The Water Hub - a partnership between Durham University, Durham County Council, the Environment Agency and Northumbrian Water, to find suitable inventors and creators to build the invention on their behalf.

Information collected by Dragonfly, will help Northumbrian Water to maintain its industry-leading environmental performance by managing its water and wastewater network even better.

It will also help organisations make decisions about water safety and how catchments are managed.

The aim is for a number of different sensors placed in rivers and streams, linking multiple units together with 5G and creating a physical network of wireless connectivity for the benefit of rural communities.