City West Water has reduced maintenance costs, eliminated paper based reporting and increased responsiveness with an integrated job management system and a new fleet of Next G handsets.
The government agency provides water and sewerage management for 1 million homes and businesses in the greater Melbourne CBD area.
City West Water information services manager David Bellchambers said it was desperate for a replacement for its "disastrous" Statenet mobile radio network and clunky field reporting system.
"We rolled out 3000 Panasonic toughbook laptops running on Next G which saved us $20,000 in maintenance and repair over using regular Dell laptops," Bellchambers said.
"Our old mobile systems were big ugly desktop things in our trucks which chewed up enormous amounts of power and didn't often work.
"The new [platform] hooks into our SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition)system and alerts us of burst water mains and dangerous job sites using our GIS (Geographic Information System) mapping program."
An alert system, built on the Kingfisher protocol, monitors the pressure of City West Water's network of pipes and sends notifications straight to field laptops.
The Field Operations Case Utility System (FOCUS) integrates the agency's Oracle RDMS databases, including its Hansen asset management system, Smallworld GIS platform and interactive voice reponse (IVR) phone system.
Staff upskilling is the biggest benfit according to Bellchambers. The system has realised about 90 percent of its projected improvements, including KPI reporting from the field, reduced water loss, and fewer customer disruptions.
"We've got blokes out there who are 60 and are learning new skills because the system has taken up the mundane tasks," Bellchambers said.
The agency also cut head count, improved responsiveness and improved safety of field staff working in dangerous environments with an integrated alert system.
The system generates an answering message on the agency's customer service phone line through an email from the management system to the IVR, which is then coverted via text to speech.
He said the so-called off-the-shelf system from e-wise required a lot of customisation for the platform to work, but recommended businesses tweak similar implementations as much as possible to maxmise suitability and staff acceptance.
Bellchambers said it remodelled the system's secuirty to run over it's Wi-Fi network.
"We use RADIUS (Remote Authentication Dial In User Service) and fully encypt traffic over our Wi-Fi VPN. We also ensure that on customer addresses are taken with laptops into the field," he said.
The agency recieves two external vulnerbility tests each year and is regularly audited by government agencies.
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