With digital water management, it pays to think long term

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There’s no doubt that digital is the future for water management. However, it’s vital to understand how well you’re positioned if you want to take full advantage of the promise.

The truth is, the future is not that far away. Just a few years ago, basic digital metering and alarming was a big step. Today, this is already commonplace for many local councils and water authorities.

But metering is just the beginning. Innovations like AI, algorithms and automation help you see not just what’s happening now, but also what could happen in the future. And this gives you the ability to act on that information.

What’s happening now

Basic digital capabilities today include control platforms with sensors on pipes and meters.

Pipe sensors can offer insight into water consumption, flow and trend analysis, as well as water quality like Ph levels and temperature.

You’re also able to predict sewer blockages or overflows, maintain optimum pipe pressure, and see when to do maintenance to extend asset life. When you decide to replace infrastructure, you’ll know where to prioritise your spend.

Residential digital meters allow both water suppliers and residents to see water usage and detect leaks. This does more than stop precious water going to waste. It can help customers avoid expensive bills, and can let water suppliers reduce the number of customer queries.

What’s around the corner

All of these capabilities alert you to events so you have the ability to take action. But what if you could move beyond simple alerting? What if water infrastructure was smarter?

For example, today a sensor simply sends an alert when it detects a leak. But tomorrow it could also shut down the pipe and redirect the flow. This is where the power of IoT really comes into play, and this is where Telstra is investing.

What if you could model consumption or predict loss and failures not just within individual pipes, but across an entire city-wide system?

Telstra is already developing these capabilities. Combining data collection via the Telstra Data Hub, AI, and the expertise of Telstra Purple’s analysts, we can create a Digital Twin of your water system.

With a digital model, you’re able to forecast multiple scenarios, then theorise different courses of action and settle on the best one. All without touching your physical infrastructure.

Soon, water networks will be intelligent enough to think and act for themselves. So whatever stage of the water journey you’re at, we think you should factor that into your thinking.

Ready now. Ready for tomorrow

We are not only committed to smart water management, we think that we’re well placed to realise its potential.

For a start, Telstra’s IoT network is the largest IoT network in Australia. An obvious advantage is that our customers don’t need to build or manage their own network. Equally important, our network can handle many IoT solutions at once, not just water metering.

Now, for example: imagine a council builds a network for water metering. Then it wants smart parking meters. It will most likely need another network to be built and managed. More overheads. More administrative burden.

Given the uptake of IoT, this could be a common scenario. As an example, one council we worked with identified 100 potential applications for IoT beyond their initial water metering solution.

Telstra believes that it’s crucial for businesses weighing up whether to use an existing network or build their own to consider the application of the Security of Critical Infrastructure Act (Cth) as part of their regulatory compliance and risk management. Telstra is well versed on this legislation because communications and data storage and processing are two of the eleven critical infrastructure sectors governed by the Act.  As such, Telstra Purple, as a business within Telstra, is both part of critical infrastructure sectors and is also in a position to consult on it, meaning we have expertise and perspective when enabling customers to work out how to navigate through these areas.  

We believe that we excel at building, managing and securing networks – we’ve been doing it for years. Moreover, we will continue to invest in and upgrade our networks because they’re central to our business.

With Telstra, the future is definitely in focus. In addition to our networks, we’ve been developing data analytics with global partners and providing cutting-edge devices and sensors through leading vendors.

Value is waiting to be discovered

More sophisticated capabilities are usually an idea for the longer term. Nevertheless, you can still start with the basics and build incrementally over time as budget and circumstances allow.

Telstra thinks that what’s important is that you assess the return on investment at each stage, and how it fits in with your overall strategy.

Whether you’re just starting or wanting to expand current capabilities, a proof of value is your first step. And generally, we see results that indicate it could provide a tangible return. In fact, many of our customers are surprised at the value that can be obtained.

Saving water is the obvious benefit, with many customers quickly detecting water leaks. This can reduce non-revenue water, and even save enough money to fund digital initiatives.

When it comes to infrastructure, they’re able to flag issues early before minor problems become major expenses. It’s also possible to defer capital upgrades by optimising water usage.

Meanwhile, digital meters can help them reduce costly manual processes and speed up meter reads. In fact, a council we worked with completed a month’s worth of readings in just one week.

If enough digital water meters are deployed, insight can be gained into water usage by area or suburb to plan for future consumption and infrastructure needs.

So we believe that the value is there. You just need to search for it – and we’re ready to assist. To make the path easier, we may be able to assist with set-up costs, we can also move CAPEX to OPEX (or vice versa) to potentially help monetise your solutions.

In addition, our solutions can deploy fast, deliver fast, and roll out at a pace that suits you. And you’ll know they’ll be supported by Telstra over the long term.

Most importantly, we not only keep our eyes on the future, we’re striving to create it. And we’ll make sure you’re ready when the future arrives.