Townsville wins national award with IBM smarter water management project

Pilot receives 2013 National Infrastructure Award for Smart Infrastructure Project

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Townsville, Australia - 08 Apr 2013: Townsville City Council and IBM today announced they have received the prestigious Smart Infrastructure Project award at the 2013 National Infrastructure Awards, for the IBM Townsville Smart Water Pilot currently underway.

Using IBM’s Big Data expertise, the project delivers near real-time information about daily water use to the city council and residents along with personalised and actionable insights all via a web portal. The primary aim is to drive water conservation by empowering citizens with smart technology to assist with positive behavioural change. 

Townsville’s Deputy Mayor Cr Vern Veitch said, “The award is recognition of a great project that was only possible through the council’s partnership with IBM, and application of innovative smart thinking, technology and partnerships.

“Townsville and IBM have worked very closely to design a trial that breaks new ground in the way the data is collected and analysed, to identify and enable ways of reducing water consumption and therefore costs to the community.

“The IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant we received in 2011 recommended options for us to better manage our city by utilising existing infrastructure in smarter ways. The smart technologies utilised allow residents to monitor their water usage and assist them in identifying hidden leaks, plan their yard watering requirements based on weather and to make informed decisions to reduce their water use.

“The award sends a very strong message about how Townsville and the council are creating partnerships and leveraging the latest technology to benefit our community.”

Glen Garner from IBM Australia’s Global Centre of Competency for Energy and Utilities said, “Pilot participants have the opportunity to be fully engaged and informed about their water consumption, and the impact of any changes made to appliances, usage habits and irrigation systems. Using smart analytics, the system can proactively notify residents about issues such as leaks, which may have previously been unknown. Via these mechanisms, this pilot project has the potential to demonstrate that significant water consumption reductions across the city are possible, delivering environment benefits. This in turn should lead to flow-on savings for the Council through reduced water treatment costs and deferral of capital investment.”

Cr Veitch continued, “This sort of Automated Meter Reading and data analytics has been used very successfully in partnership with IBM and the City of Dubuque in Iowa, United States of America. The Dubuque Water Pilot Study resulted in a 6.6 percent reduction in water consumption and an eightfold increase in leak detection, so there is enormous potential for significant social and economic benefits here in Townsville if the trial is successful.”

The award from Infrastructure Partnerships Australia recognises excellence in the project design, delivery and use of smart infrastructure and acknowledges the collaborative partnership among local government, IBM and Australian digital meter manufacturer Taggle.

The innovative water management pilot is part of the Townsville Dry Tropics Water Smart program and is being staged in partnership with the council, IBM Australia and Taggle. To date, 210 Automated Meter Readers have been installed, 155 in Aitkenvale and 55 in Bushland Beach. An additional 90 homes have been identified in other suburbs and planned for mid-April installation.

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