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Yarra Valley Water is leveraging its Foundation Technology Program to support its new ten-year business strategy to enhance its customer service. 

Yarra Valley Water said a number of core systems support its operations, including customer and billing (Oracle CC&B), asset management (IBM Maximo), GIS (Intergraph G-Technology) and SCADA (Schneider Clear SCADA). 

Yarra Valley Water has taken a best of breed approach to procuring these systems and its choices have served the company well in terms of reliability and out-of-the-box functionality – being able to meet the majority of its business requirements.

Historically hosting its core systems on its own infrastructure (on premise), going forward Yarra Valley Water is progressively transitioning to the Cloud, which will ultimately reduce lifecycle management costs. 

However, like most utilities, this migration is complicated by the fact that Yarra Valley Water has heavily customised its core applications over time – this supported its preferred processes and ways of working at the time but will now need to be unpicked or rebuilt.

Yarra Valley Water’s core systems also have a low-level of integration with each other. As the company moves towards increasingly customer centric operations, it will need to integrate the data within these systems to get a holistic view of both its customers and assets. 

Yarra Valley Water has now developed a high-level future state technology architecture, which separates the user experience from the engine room of our core systems. 

This will be more resilient to the ever-changing technology landscape and will meet the needs of its customers and employees, both now and into the future. The new architecture is much more plug and play as well as being agnostic to whether the systems are hosted on its infrastructure or in the Cloud.

Foundational Technology Program

The cornerstone of making this a reality is Yarra Valley Water’s Foundational Technology Program – which introduces core pieces of technology to enable this shift. This program includes:

Customer Experience Digital Platform – a single pane of glass for customers and staff to manage all of the account, service, and transitional based (property move in and move out) transactions. This will ultimately incorporate online service portals and enable Yarra Valley Water to view the entire interaction history it has with each customer.

Distribution Management System – a single pane of glass for its staff and partners to manage its assets and ensure it meets its obligations for providing safe and reliable services and minimising environmental impacts. Initially this involves data visualisation, but quickly moves into alarm and event management, and ultimately response automation.

Communications and IoT Device Management – enabling the company to take full advantage of the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT) – such as providing customers with information to manage their water use and reduce their bills, and more effective management of Yarra Valley Water’s entire asset networks.

Yarra Valley Water is already considering replacing its mechanical water meter fleet with digital water meters and is also considering a range of other network monitoring sensors. The Device Management Platform will enable the company to manage large volumes of IoT devices throughout their lifecycle (ultimately more than a million devices).

Enterprise Historian – the database and associated analytics for all of its time-series data, predominately acquired from its field-based sensors – which then enables this data to be combined with data from other non-time-series related data sources for improved insight and decision making.

API Integration Tool – a modern and more standardised way of integrating the flow of data between systems and making the most of the functionality already present in its core systems.

Yarra Valley Water already selected the majority of the above components and are in various phases of implementation. 

Its initial focus is on platform stand-up, with use case build out to take place over an extended period of time based on highest value first. The current status of the various components is:

Customer Experience Digital Platform – Yarra Valley Water selected Salesforce as its preferred software solution. 

Yarra Valley Water will use development partners to help it build out the roadmap.

Distribution Management – tenders have closed and evaluation is currently underway.

Communications and IoT Device Management – tenders have closed and evaluation is currently underway.

Enterprise Historian – a preferred solution has been selected and vendor negotiations are currently underway.

Yarra Valley Water is also implementing a new IT Service and Operations Management platform to implement and deliver its IT services and ensure they meet its needs. 

This will manage and monitor the performance of its technology assets throughout their lifecycle as well as streamline the work of technology support teams. 

Yarra Valley Water recently selected ServiceNow as the preferred software solution and has commenced the implementation phase.

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