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INTELLIGENT WATER SOLUTIONS
data had required a signed licence agreement, and for GIS staff to
manually extract only the specific data required.
What did the move to open data mean for Yarra
Valley Water, and should other utility bodies
With the move to an open, digital data platform, anyone can view
infrastructure information, which means that Yarra Valley Water
has essentially surrendered its status as information gatekeeper.
The move to the digital data format also required a hefty financial
investment, which meant that Yarra Valley Water had to carefully
evaluate the consequences of releasing its data online – both
good and bad.
Despite initial reservations about who should and should not
have access to the data, Yarra Valley Water has hailed its open
data initiative a success. By removing all the red tape that was
previously in place, Yarra Valley Water has been able to empower
customers to independently locate important information in a cost-
and time-effective manner.
The release of data proved to be a win for Yarra Valley Water,
as well as its customers, who provide the utility with insightful
and ongoing feedback as they engage with the online service.
Yarra Valley Water also said that for a spatial industry moving
towards augmented reality technologies, it makes business sense
to release data in open, online forms, and to actively use online
platforms to engage users.
Open data for increased safety
As a water services supplier that covers approximately 4000
square kilometres of infrastructure across Melbourne’s northern
and eastern suburbs, Yarra Valley Water keenly understood its
responsibility to keep abreast of safety issues across its large
Older digitised formats of its infrastructure data, which were not
freely available to the public, often only provided accuracy of within
two or three metres. The new online map has sharpened location
accuracy of the underground assets, and provides users with
detailed background information so that they can spend less time
looking for specific pipes and openings while underground.
In an increasingly safety-conscious industry environment,
professionals who seek to plan around, build near or connect to Yarra
Valley Water assets expect transparent, detailed and easily accessible
information about the dimensions and characteristics of the site in
question. This meant that requests for manual data retrieval were
piling up, and opening up the data was the logical solution.
The feedback that customers provide is also a useful safety
measure that alerts Yarra Valley Water staff to potential data
issues much more efficiently.
The water industry’s technological future
New technologies are constantly making waves in the water
industry, and are shaping its operation. The Australian iteration
of Isle Utilities’ Technology Approval Group (TAG) is a platform
that assesses new and emerging technologies in the water
industry. These technologies include high-resolution monitoring of
pressurised sewer lines, advanced leak detection, as well as more
efficient IT and data management tools.
TAG has said that one of the biggest technological challenges
for water professionals is disruptive technology that goes against
the traditional industry norms of keeping data behind a firewall.
Instead, operational technologies are shifting towards a cloud-
based information model; however, the traditional approach to
data is, generally speaking, the approach that regulation supports,
which presents a whole new challenge looking forward.
The Australian TAG forum runs in partnership with the Water
Services Association of Australia (WSAA), whose members include
industry heavyweights like Melbourne Water, Sydney Water, SA
Water and Western Water. TAG has evaluated more than 200 new
technologies in the past year, with around 70 per cent of those
moving forward with either further trials or research. The forum
allows water industry professionals to collaborate on trials and
share tips for best practice in an industry where data management
and technology adoption are in a state of flux.
DESPITE INITIAL RESERVATIONS ABOUT WHO SHOULD AND
SHOULD NOT HAVE ACCESS TO THE DATA, YARRA VALLEY
WATER HAS HAILED ITS OPEN DATA INITIATIVE A SUCCESS.
BY REMOVING ALL THE RED TAPE THAT WAS PREVIOUSLY IN
PLACE, YARRA VALLEY WATER HAS BEEN ABLE TO EMPOWER
CUSTOMERS TO INDEPENDENTLY LOCATE IMPORTANT
INFORMATION IN A COST- AND TIME-EFFECTIVE MANNER
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