news In what it is calling “an Australian first”, Victoria’s South East Water has started trials of a new low-powered Internet of Things (IoT) technology to improve real-time monitoring and help to boost the “reliability, efficiency and safety” of its water and sewer assets.
South East Water said it is working with “leading global ICT providers” to test narrowband-Internet of Things (NB-IoT) tech over three months on its network infrastructure on the Mornington Peninsula, Melbourne, and in the Dandenong Ranges.
In a statement, the utility said it chose Optus, Vodafone and Huawei as project partners “for their ability to deliver end-to-end NB-IoT solutions”.
Initially, South East Water’s existing 3G technology will be replaced with NB-IoT technology to transmit real-time data on network performance, condition of assets and fault management across South East Water’s Peninsula ECO sewer network.
The data collected will be used to control waste water flows from individual properties and to identify faults across the network.
“The emergence of lower-powered, low-cost networks with increased coverage has the potential to unlock enormous value for water utilities and their customers” said Phil Johnson, Corporate and Commercial General Manager at South East Water.
Designed to comply with 3GPP specifications – a third-generation mobile system based on GSM core networks – NB-IoT is a low-cost narrowband radio technology.
According to South East Water, it uses less power than other communications standards, enabling the connection of large numbers of physical objects, from hand-held devices and infrastructure to wearables and vehicles.
3GPP further provides network connectivity that enables the embedded electronics, sensors and software in such devices to collect and exchange data regardless of their location. This provides operators with detailed, real-time information that facilitates speedy decision making.
To test the technology under different conditions and applications, trials will also be undertaken on similar sewer infrastructure in the Belgrave area of the Dandenong Ranges, and on “a range of assets” in Southbank. The total test area will cover approximately 1000 square kilometres, according to South East Water.
The trials will also see NB-IoT chipsets installed on manhole covers to alert operators to unauthorised sewer access, “reducing the risk of accident and injury and damage to water assets”.
The technology will also be installed in rainwater tank management systems, and used to transmit and receive data about storage levels and expected rainfall, which is used to optimise rainwater harvesting/stormwater run- off.
“Through this trial, we are building a platform for a more reliable and sustainable water supply, a safer place for our people to work, and more cost-effective services for our customers,” Johnson said.