Utility fraud detection

Using computer vision to assess potential water consumption from satellite imagery


The local government of a large city needed to control water consumption in the outskirts and surrounding counties of the city. Due to severe drought during previous years, residents of the area were prohibited from using water for swimming pools, lawns or other plants that required considerable irrigation.


Cognition implemented a solution based on their satellite computer vision technology module to detect swimming pools, lawns, trees and many other objects from satellite images.

Using satellite images provided by the client, Cognition calibrated the computer vision technology to be able to identify swimming pools and lawns, and consequently, identify potential water consumption fraud. Images had the location information, so it was straightforward to analyze historic and current water consumption information together with the information extracted out of the satellite images.

The analysis provided a list of properties that required a more detailed investigation.


The custom solution Cognition developed was able to analyze much broader areas than with manual methods, and it provided information to allow city government inspectors to focus on properties that more likely were not following the local water consumption regulations.