How to retrofit sensors to non-urban water meters across a geographically distributed area to drive innovative analytic capabilities
There are +12,000 meters, of various makes and models, across South Australia. As part of this challenge, DEW Water Licensing Branch was seeking to demonstrate that the fleet of meters is compatible with retrofit sensors, to receive a reliable, accurate and timely data feed in near-real time to enable improved reporting and monitoring of water usage. If successful, the output of the data feed was in turn, to drive innovative data analytic capabilities including machine learning.
Specific strategic challenges:
For the water licensee
- proactive management of water usage versus allocation
- improvement of on-farm productivity
- enablement of the water economy and trading
For the water regulator
- improvement of compliance intelligence
- automated analytics to encourage positive behaviour by licensees
- accurate prediction of water demand
A new approach was required. It needed to solve a sensor retrofit and network challenge to enable analytics capability, so that water use could be monitored efficiently and provide timely advice when meter problems occurred.
DEW issued a challenge through the Department for Industry, Innovation and Science’s Go2Gov program, which connects the private sector with the government to develop innovative solutions to critical challenges. Following a feasibility study, SpiralData were awarded the proof of concept (POC) for the analytics and partnered with Urban.io to deliver the sensors and network.
Partnerships, collaboration and data-first
The POC focussed on 3 regions, 1 of which was a telecommunication blackspot. Sensors connected to more than 3 water meter manufacturers and multiple connection mechanisms. A communication plan was developed between DEW and Urban.io to coordinate connections of 50 water meters in the field, with data transmitted and stored in the cloud.
SpiralData, experts in algorithms for water networks, then integrated their SmartWater Platform via an API and began a series of co-design sprints with DEW subject matter experts to define and develop analytic capability.
The solution required bold aspirations to see beyond telemetry.
Using design thinking, the key outcomes were a shared understanding of the significant value in proactive water use, compliance intelligence, engaging the broader water economy and strategic implications if demand was able to be modelled accurately.
SpiralData worked with DEW using co-design, agile principles and AIML expertise to quickly deliver a working POC.
"While I was aware my usage was well below the entitlement, this has provided me a solid cross reference to my own numbers/calculations manually recorded"
— Water licensee in the trial
The Smartwater Platform
Enabling data science and machine learning teams to deliver business value
For rapid deployment of a data lake and AI workbench, SpiralData leveraged our infrastructure-as-code AI Smartwater Platform. This meant less time standing up infrastructure and more time for our data scientists to work with their preferred tool to solve real-world water challenges.
Our unified platform leverages the oversight and control of SageMaker on AWS but enables practitioners to self-manage with unlimited personalised tooling options. Experiments can be tracked and shared easily, enabling reproducible data science that is secure and scalable.
SpiralData’s and Urban.io experts worked closely with our subject matter experts for co-development of automated water metering and analytics tailored to our needs. The agile framework and strategic approach have led to great insights into potential future capability to deliver informed planning decisions for water resource management and water licence holders.”
— Mike Fuller, General Manager Water Licensing, Department for Environment and Water
Automated metering, combined with the SmartWater Platform, opens the door for improved compliance, water use efficiency, on-farm productivity, water trading and local sustainable economic prosperity.
In addition, the POC delivered improved collaboration and planning within the department, as well as improved relationships between the department and participating water licence holders. The power of the SmartWater Platform is that this can be done in a manner that is scalable, fast, accurate and flexible to the needs of any water regulator of non-urban water meters.
Enhanced reputation of the water regulator reputation; embracing technology, progressive, accurate, an enabler
With the current value of water entitlements in South Australia around $7.5 billion, telemetry provides an opportunity to leverage this asset base to not only improve productivity for the individual water licence holder , but also to grow local economies through flow-on services and consumption, expanding overall regional prosperity through water.
“The partnership between SpiralData and Urban.io has shown that complimentary Australian-owned IoT and AIML businesses can solve complex problems at scale. And this is applicable to anywhere in the world.”
— Rob Cumming, CEO, Urban.io
“Water is our most precious resource – it is up to the regulators globally to take steps to transform their compliance, intelligence and water economies using IoT and Data Science. The SpiralData team is very proud of how our SmartWater platform has demonstrated this for Dept for Environment and Water in South Australia the driest state in the world.”
— Kale Needham, CEO, SpiralData