Fujitsu Australia, in collaboration with construction group Downer and Melbourne based electronics engineering and software development company EYEfi, has successfully trialled a ‘smart drains’ system that has the potential to significantly reduce the risk of flooding from overflowing stormwater drains.

The system has been piloted on drainage works being constructed by Downer for the Yarra Ranges Council in Victoria. It uses a network of ultrasonic and sensors and cameras that monitor drains in real time and can alert maintenance teams about blockages before heavy rainfall that would cause flooding if the drain remained blocked.

Ultrasonic sensors have been mounted in roadside stormwater drains to measure water levels. These communicate with cloud-based software developed by EYEfi to provide alerts for rising water every fifteen minutes.

A dashboard gives a view of the input from all sensors to provide management with a clear view of drain infrastructure to identify areas of focus.

The Yarra Ranges Council faces a number of local flood management and drainage challenges, with over 4,900 properties known to be at risk of flooding from waterways or underground drains.

Adding to these challenges are long-term future pressures on the existing drainage system resulting from urban consolidation and an increase in rainfall intensity, with approximately seven percent of properties within the Yarra Ranges Council being prone to flooding.

Downer and Fujitsu have worked closely with EYEfi to develop the solution with a view to further commercialisation.

The trial has successfully proven the technology and provided the catalyst to deploy the solution on a large scale that would realise the key operational and commercial benefits.

It is estimated the system could reduce by more than 70 percent the requirement for periodic inspections of standard roadside pits by using ultrasonic sensors and reduce by more than 90 percent the requirement for periodic inspections of general pollutant traps (GPT) style pits by using both ultrasonic and camera sensing.

It could also significantly reduce the operational costs associated with regular scheduled inspections of pits, and significantly reduce the impacts of flooding through preventative or proactive response to issues or blockages in pits and drains.

The Yarra Ranges Council smart drain by Downer, Fujitsu and EYEfi is a finalist in the Best Municipal Project category at the 2018 Australian IoT Awards being held at the IoT Festival on 4 June in Melbourne.