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Digital transformation for Yarra Valley Water

While customer-facing innovations get most of the attention, back office improvements offer some of the most exciting digital transformations in the water industry.

Yarra Valley Water’s Foundational Technology Program will support its ambitious 10-year business strategy and transform the digital backbone of the business, ultimately providing a better customer experience.

Yarra Valley Water’s core systems covering customer and billing, asset management, geographic information systems and supervisory control and data acquisition will remain within existing platforms, but will move from locally hosted servers to the cloud. This will ultimately reduce life-cycle costs, but is not without challenges: over time, Yarra Valley Water has customised its core systems, and these changes will need to be unpicked.

The core systems have previously had limited integration, but the Foundational Technology Program will bring the information from across the systems together to provide a holistic view of both customers and assets.

The program will also include the development of a customer portal, a single site for customers and staff to manage key relationship transactions, including account management, service and property relocation. Supported by Salesforce, which was recently selected as preferred software solution, it will ultimately allow Yarra Valley Water to review its whole history with a customer.

Similarly, Yarra Valley Water will implement a distribution management system, which will allow staff and partners to monitor assets on a single platform. It will allow Yarra Valley Water to meet its obligations for providing safe and reliable services and minimising environmental impacts. The system will involve data visualisation, alarm and event management, and response automation.

The Foundational Technology Program also includes introducing new technology to support communications and Internet of Things (IoT) device management, and an enterprise historian database tool.

The device management platform will allow the utility to manage large volumes of IoT devices, such as smart metres, throughout their lifecycle. This could ultimately number more than a million devices.

The enterprise historian platform will comprise the database and associated analytics for all of Yarra Valley Water’s time-series data, which is mostly sourced from its field-based sensors. Ultimately, this data will be able to be combined with data from other sources to provide information and insight for improved decision making.

Each of these technologies, as well as the existing core systems, will be better integrated by the implementation of an API integration tool. This will allow data to flow between systems, and make the most of the functionality that already exists in Yarra Valley Water’s systems, but is being underused.

The benefits of the program extend beyond life-cycle cost savings. They will also provide a better customer experience, and enable staff and partners to make better decisions with better data.

The program is well underway, with Yarra Valley Water proceeding with procurement for the new systems, and developing implementation road maps.