Yarra Valley Water plans to install digital water meters and network sensors over the next year under a pilot program.
The utility services an area of 4000 square kilometres and manages around $6 billion worth of infrastructure.
Under a partnership with Sagemcom Australasia, the Internet of Things (IoT) project is expected to deliver early network faults notifications and lead to the development of better asset management predictive models and investment strategies.
The deal will see Yarra Valley Water provided with digital water meters and network sensors, as well as the headend system and meter data management software needed to manage them.
Pressure sensor devices built into the digital water meters will help Yarra Valley Water improve its understanding of network performance and spot problem areas.
Yarra Valley Water will deploy SICONIA software across the next year and intends to roll out digital water meters trial in the same timeframe.
If all goes well, the organisation will look at a larger scale rollout of the water meters throughout its entire service area over a 10-year timeframe.
It forms part of a 10-year strategy, with managing director of Yarra Valley Water Pat McCafferty stating that “large-scale digital metering within the water sector is relatively new to Australia” however, common in other areas of the globe.
“We’re exploring how digital water meters and smarter networks can help conserve water and reduce customer bills, by improving the way we monitor water use and detecting water leaks earlier,” he said.
Yarra Valley Water’s general manager of service futures Glenn Wilson told iTnews this is a new capability “which we have not had before.”
“Before this partnership, we’ve been exploring different technologies. What we have now is a more mature device management platform, with integrated data capability”.
He said the IoT capabilities “will be a game changer for utilities.”
“Deploying sensor devices across our asset networks enables us to understand how they are performing and make the necessary interventions when required.
“We made an early architectural decision to use a headend system and meter data management solution that can scale to over 1 million devices.”
Wilson said the work is intended to improve customer experience by using the data collected “to interact with our customers on a more personalised level.”
“We will create tailored customer journeys through our Salesforce system (Marketing Cloud), triggered by insights from network sensor data,” he said.
“This includes notifying customers about unnecessary water use, changes in their water usage, tips to reduce bills, and information about service outages.”
Wilson added the installation process of a digital water meter is “largely” the same as installing a more traditional meter.
“The only difference is that the digital meter needs to be activated to connect to the communications network.
“We’re working with our meter installation partner, New Plumbing Solutions, to automate many steps in the process and reduce the time required at each customer property.”
He added the old systems will “eventually be phased out.”