National ICT Australia (NICTA) and Sydney Water have teamed up to install smart technology throughout the city’s water pipes that will forecast potential breakgages in the system.

The nation’s critical water mains break on average 7,000 times a year due to age, material, soil type and other factors. But under the agreement announced later last week, NICTA’s machine learning capabilities will be used to accurately identify which pipes are at risk of failure, potentially saving as much as $700 million each year in reactive repairs and maintenance.

“NICTA’s technology was trialled in Wollongong and was able to accurately predict breaks in the following year with twice the precision of the existing technology,” said Mr Rob Fitzpatrick, Director, Infrastructure, Transport and Logistics at NICTA.

 “NICTA is applying advanced machine learning techniques to pipe failure data from Sydney Water. We have been working together to develop a system that will reduce the inconvenience and expense incurred by water pipe breakages.”

“All water utilities with buried water pipes are faced with the issue of finding pipes that are at high-risk of failure before they fail and result in significant disruptions to the community. To do this we need accurate models to identify high-risk pipes which can cope with the differences in age, pipe material, environmental conditions and urbanisation,” said Kevin Young, Managing Director of Sydney Water.