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Intelligent Water Networks (IWN) has developed a risk assessment tool for Victorian water businesses considering a move to digital metering that combines data and shares it across a network.

The Digital Metering Risk Assessment Tool (DMRAT) is a platform that combines the resources of multiple stakeholders and shares the results across the industry.

The IWN is a partnership between 17 Victorian water corporations, VicWater and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

IWN Chair Neil Brennan said the DMRAT is a good example of an industry-led collaboration and innovation.

“Many Victorian water businesses are contemplating digital metering, with some already working on business cases for consideration by their customers, Boards, the State Government and other stakeholders,” Mr Brennan said.

“To ensure that these businesses cases are robust, all risks associated with digital metering must be identified, along with appropriate mitigations.”

IWN DMART project leader Virginia Collins said to separately engage an expert consultant to complete individual risk assessments would cost up to $50,000 per business.

“As well as making significant savings in consultant fees, collaboration also allowed us to collate the collective knowledge of experienced personnel from multiple water businesses, ensuring a more thorough risk analysis,” Ms Collins said.

The development of the DMRAT was fully funded by the IWN, which is funded through member organisation contributions.

Yarra Valley Water managed the project, under a committee of representatives from other water businesses. Energy and water industry firm, Oakley Greenwood was selected as the consultant on the project after a tender process.

“Oakley Greenwood facilitated a series of three full-day workshops to identify digital metering risks and mitigations,” Ms Collins said.

“These were attended by 19 people, representing 14 water corporations, the IWN Executive Group and VicWater.

“In addition, the consultant interviewed external stakeholders, including the Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria, the Essential Services Commission, the Water Services Association of Australia, and Victorian Government departments.”

Ms Collins said nearly 200 risks associated with digital metering were identified through this process as well as recommended mitigations.

The comprehensive list of potential risks produced through the IWN project includes:

  • Customer perceptions
  • Technology failures
  • Data management and protection challenges
  • Contractor problems
  • OH&S matters
  • Environmental hazards
  • Industrial relations issues
  • Legal troubles
  • Financial risks
  • Vandalism

The risks and proposed mitigations were considered in the context of various business scenarios.

“Different water businesses will make different technological and operational choices regarding digital metering, which change the associated risks, their weightings, and the possible mitigations,” Ms Collins said.

“For example, one water business might choose ‘bleeding-edge’ metering and communications technologies, and an operational model involving multiple contractors and high frequency meter readings.

“Their risks will obviously be different to those of a business selecting well-established technology, keeping operations in-house and opting for less frequent meter readings.

“It became clear in the first workshop that the DMRAT would need to be flexible in order to accommodate a variety of users.”

Ms Collins said a range of five different hypothetical business scenarios were developed, in which associated risks were considered and weighted to identify appropriate mitigations.

“The DMRAT provides customised data – the user makes technological and operational choices and the tool adapts its outputs,” Ms Collins said.

“The DMRAT is unique in Australia – nothing else comes close.

“Victorian water businesses using this tool can take the next step towards digital metering with confidence that their risk analysis is of the highest possible standard.

“I’m proud of this project and proud to be part of the IWN, providing our member water businesses with solutions that optimise expenditure and create positive outcomes for our customers.”

Lauren brings a fresh approach to content. While she’s previously written for publications as diverse as Australian Geographic, The Border Watch and Girlfriend, she’s found her true passion in her current role as an editor in the world of energy and infrastructure trade magazines.

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