South East Water has started a three-month trial of narrowband IoT technology to monitor sewerage, rainwater and manhole assets in real time.

The utility said it had entered deals with Optus, Vodafone and Huawei as technical partners for the tests, which span network infrastructure on the Mornington Peninsula, in Melbourne’s CBD, and in the Dandenong Ranges.

“The emergence of lower powered, low cost networks with increased coverage has the potential to unlock enormous value for water utilities and their customers,” South East Water corporate and commercial general manager Phil Johnson said.

 “Through this trial, we are building a platform for a more reliable and sustainable water supply, a safer place for our people to work, and more cost-effective services for our customers.”

Initially, South East Water will replace 3G technology with NB-IoT to monitor its Peninsula ECO sewer network.

“The data will be used control waste water flows from each property, and identify faults across the network,” the utility said.

NB-IoT chipsets are also to be installed on manhole covers to alert operators to unauthorised sewer access.

South East Water hopes that will reduce “the risk of accident and injury and damage to water assets”.

The technology will also be installed in rainwater tank management systems, and used to transmit and receive data about storage levels and expected rainfall, which is used to optimise rainwater harvesting/stormwater runoff, the utility said.