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Newsletter supplement 17/5/16 - Square One Utilities and Vreo


Square One Utilities gear up for water market deregulation

A North East based energy consultancy is gearing up for the water market opening up to competition in April 2017 after an extremely successful start to the year. Square One Utilities, based in Boldon Colliery, currently specialise in the procurement of gas and electricity, however, when the water market deregulates in April 2017 they will be offering their services in the procurement of water.

Currently the water market is regionalised with companies such as Northumbrian Water having a monopoly over their territory. In April 2017 that will be changing and the market will open up to competition, allowing business customers to ‘shop around’ for a better water price. It is expected this will incentivise the water companies to lower their water prices.

When the water market opened up to competition in Scotland in 2008 over £30 million worth of discounts were made available to business customers. The Scottish market is a lot smaller than the market in England, therefore the discounts are expected to be a lot higher than that in 2017.

Commercial Manager Alison Thomson said ‘’It is a very exciting time at Square One Utilities with huge pans for growth over the next 12 months. We have gained some excellent clients to our Square One family already this year.’’

‘’I was in the industry when the gas and electricity markets deregulated and it provided a huge opportunity for businesses to save money on their bills, I think we will see the same thing with the water market.’’ 

‘’Although the deregulation date is almost 11 months away, we have already begun looking at our clients water expenditures to put them in the perfect position to take advantage of the deregulation at the earliest possible opportunity.’’


VREO creates eyes on the sea in USV Surveillance mission

Vreo Innovation, a UK based vision system solutions company, with an enviable reputation for the development and manufacture of cutting edge opto--‐electronics, has been commissioned to develop a proof of concept vision system for its partner MOST (AV). Most (AV) have developed an autonomous surface vessel (ASV/USV) called Autonaut.
Jura (Autonaut’s five meter iteration) launched the test mission earlier this week to demonstrate situational awareness capability. This mission has been developed in partnership with the Satellite Applications Catapult and Blue Economy specialists NLA Ltd. Focusing on the challenges of capturing ground truth, evidential images and data. Cued on to targets highlighted by satellite imagery and AIS data trend analysis, VREO Innovation cameras will gather stabilized HD video images and transmit them back to land in near real time using the Inmarsat Fleet Broadband network. The range of VREO Innovation cameras being used include:
The Mariner: a stabilised zoom camera mounted on the surface of the deck, with 30x optical zoom and HD video over IP. It has been integrated into the satellite transmission system to enable real time remote monitoring. Its purpose: to monitor illegal fishing, support with border control and environmental monitoring and helping to protect conservation areas.
The MastCam: a 360 degree panoramic multi camera system mounted at the top of the mast which takes and stores 13 megapixel stills from each of four viewpoints giving a total of 52 megapixel panoramics. At 15 minute intervals, the images are stored on a solid state drive and can be retrieved via the satellite transmission system. Its purpose: To provide situational awareness including sea state, weather and marine life monitoring.
The technology has quickly generated a high degree of interest from governments and law enforcement agencies who recognise the benefits of establishing vision capability off shore. AutoNaut can autonomously patrol an area, hold position or be piloted remotely over satellite communications, surveying large areas using cameras, passive acoustic monitoring and other surveillance sensors. Border control, counter Illegal Unreported and Unregulated fishing and other illegal activities such as drug and people smuggling as well as anti piracy are all obvious markets for the application of this exciting technology. Importantly a sophisticated passive and active ocean science sensor suite can be included which will also enable marine environment data gathering to support scientific understanding of the healthiness of the seas and oceans.
Mark Vernon, MD of VREO Innovation believes, “This is a great opportunity for VREO to deploy our vision expertise at sea, and is very much in keeping with our ethical technology mission. The trial will provide valuable feedback to develop our systems further within the blue economy.” Soon after the initial mission, VREO’s mariner could be undertaking longer operations on board Autonaut patrolling newly established Marine Protected Areas in various global locations.
MOST (AV)’s Design Manager Dan Alldis commented ‘We are extremely pleased to be launching our first 5m AutoNaut. The increased payload capacity opens up a world of new sensor options and the increased deck size improves AutoNaut’s power generation capability allowing us to install higher power sensors and comms packages. We’ve been delighted with the interest it has received and are now developing designs for a 7m boat that will further improve speed and power generation capabilities enabling deployment of exciting additional technologies for a new and diverse range of applications.’
Designed to meet the specifications of the University of Oxford’s Professor Alex Rogers. These sensors enable the ability to capture important marine environment data whilst undertaking the situational awareness mission. These data sets have real scientific value, not least because they can be gathered at a relatively low cost and higher frequency than a manned operation would allow. Prof Rogers was keen to point out ‘The forthcoming demonstration of these sensors will be very revealing. I’m particularly looking forward to analysing the data set and envisage that similar data sets could be gathered in parts of the world that are of particular interest to our environmental research here at Oxford’s Department of Zoology. Sea conditions and marine health checks around coral reefs are expensive to monitor for extended periods.
A recent KTN report commented that, “The Autonomous Systems market has the potential to be just as far--‐reaching as the Space sector if approached in an integrated way.” Global research organisation Frost and Sullivan also suggested that, “The Unmanned Maritime Systems market segment has the least number of entrenched competitors and is expected to see the greatest amount of growth.”
Both the Mastcam and Mariner can be produced and installed on multiple platforms to include drones, ROVs (remote operated vehicles) as well as UAVs (unmanned autonomous vehicles).
For further information about VREO vision systems and additional images of the camera system, please visit or contact Karen Weech on +44 7811362460 or
For video of actual footage captured during this test mission, please visit:‐8


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