Industry collaboration develops new digital metering risk tool

Posted 15 September 2016

Digital water metersVictorian corporations have banded together to develop a risk assessment tool for those looking to introduce digital water meters.

The Digital Metering Risk Assessment Tool (DMRAT), developed by Intelligent Water Networks (IWN), aims to save utilities time and money.

“If we separately engaged an expert consultant to complete our own risk assessments, it would cost up to $50,000 per business,” said leader of the DMRAT project, Yarra Valley Water's Virginia Collins.

“Since all water businesses face common issues with digital metering, the IWN provided the platform to combine the resources of multiple stakeholders, do this work once and share the results across the industry.

“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.”

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

IWN Chair Neil Brennan said it made sense to complete thorough assessments by pooling resources.

“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,” Brennan said.

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

Yarra Valley Water managed the DMRAT project under a steering committee of representatives from other water businesses.

Oakley Greenwood was selected as the consultant on the project, facilitating a series of full-day workshops to identify digital metering risks and mitigations.

External stakeholders – including the Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria, the Essential Services Commission, the Water Services Association of Australia, and Victorian Government departments – were also consulted.

“Nearly 200 risks associated with digital metering were identified through this process, along with recommended mitigations,” Collins said. 

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

A range of five different hypothetical business scenarios were developed, with associated risks and mitigation options explored for each.

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

“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.”

Risks identified included:

  • those associated with customer perceptions
  • technology failures
  • data management and protection challenges
  • contractor problems
  • OH&S matters
  • environmental hazards
  • industrial relations issues
  • legal troubles
  • financial risks
  • vandalism