A device the size of a large matchbox will help protect Melbourne Water’s extensive water transfer network of pipes and tanks, and at the same time provide information on air quality, thanks to cutting-edge technology developed in collaboration with Victoria’s Environment Protection Authority (EPA).

Melbourne Water created the monitor using Internet of Things (IoT) technology, which allows computing devices embedded in everyday objects to measure, send and receive data. It was developed in collaboration with Green Technology Services.

The dual-purpose device will alert Melbourne Water to any corrosion in its pipes and tanks, and will be fitted with an air particle counter to monitor air quality, which will help the EPA understand issues such as smoke from bushfires.

Melbourne Water’s Team Leader, Automation Delivery, Russell Riding, said the device will be installed inside existing corrosion protection stations positioned alongside Melbourne Water’s main transfer pipelines across the greater metro area.

The IoT system will double its benefit to the community as it will be collecting two important and very different sets of information.

“This system will alert our asset managers if any issues with the operation of the corrosion protection systems occur,” Mr Riding said.

“This will allow us to get to the affected site quickly and make the necessary repairs sooner, removing hundreds of time-consuming manual inspections we currently perform across our network.”

EPA Air Quality Scientist, Gavin Fisher, says the device will enable the authority to better understand how sensors can be used to increase its understanding of air pollution across Melbourne.

“Before this innovation we’ve been limited in the ways and places we can collect air quality information,” Mr Fisher said.

“This project will allow us to explore new ways of collecting air quality data and information on pollution impacting Melbourne. It will result in a better understanding of how these sensors could be used in the future.

“This is an exciting and unique collaboration with Melbourne Water – we’ve obviously partnered on water issues before – but not on air issues.”

About two hundred of the IoT monitoring devices will be eventually be fitted across Melbourne Water’s pipe network, with the installation of these devices commencing in late 2019/early 2020.

Siobhan Day is the Assistant Editor of Utility magazine and Pump Industry magazine, and has been part of the team since early 2019. With a background in management in the non-profit sector, Siobhan has extensive experience in communications, professional writing and client management. She holds a Bachelor of Business and Communications and is currently completing a postgraduate degree.

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