Metasphere Brings Remote Monitoring Solutions for Monitoring Critical Water Infrastructure to Australian Market
As the driest inhabited continent, Australia faces some of the most extreme impacts of climate change, including drought, water scarcity, and in some regions, flooding. To ensure continuous and safe service, as well as responsible ecosystem management, Australian water utilities are under regulatory pressure to manage their networks under constantly changing conditions.
“When you’re operating under extreme circumstances, you need the right tools to do the job well,” says Tim O’Brien, CEO of UK-based Metasphere. “Utility managers need real-time visibility to their networks so they can make the best possible decisions for the best outcomes.”
A leading telemetry company, Metasphere is combining smart machine learning data analytics with IoT connected level monitors to provide water and wastewater utilities with a robust, reliable, and cost-effective way to remotely monitor their networks. The result is expanded network visibility, which will allow utilities to forecast potential issues, make better decisions about how to manage them, and meaningfully improve performance.
Entering the Australian water utility market
Operating in the tightly regulated UK market prepared Metasphere to offer solutions to Australian utilities, O’Brien says. “They share similar drivers. When Sydney Water saw our technology in action, we started to receive inquiries from the utility. It was a pull rather than a push.”
Metasphere’s team worked with Sydney Water and committed to growing its business in Australia, building relationships with the utilities, testing the solutions, and gaining a deep understanding of – and appreciation for – the market and its unique needs.
“Utilities are inherently conservative. In Australia, they’re also under a great deal of pressure to respond to climate change. People are driven to protect water resources and use them sustainably. The utilities must be accountable,” O’Brien says. “That being said, we also found that Australian utilities were more willing to source, pilot, and ultimately buy innovative solutions.”
Once Metasphere’s initial customer was satisfied with the company’s solutions, the word travelled quickly to other utilities, he adds. Today, Metasphere serves some of Australia’s biggest utilities, including Melbourne Water Corporation, City West Water, and Urban Utilities. The team has successfully partnered with system integrators and OEMS to pursue further business. In 2016, Metasphere opened an Australian office and the company employs representatives in each state in which it works.
Applying experience to enter new markets
Ret Mathieson, Metasphere’s Market Development Manager, says there’s a good synergy between the company’s presence in both the UK and Australia. “We’ve learned a lot from working with Australian utilities,” she says. “For example, Australia switched to 3G in 2015. There, we reacted to market demand, but in doing so, we had leading-edge solutions ready for the UK market. It’s taken some of our competitors five years to catch up.”
Building relationships in Australia has also advanced Metasphere’s growth in neighbouring markets. “Any expansion we’ve done has been organic,” says Mathieson. “We don’t just pick a region. It’s a pragmatic, natural evolution.”
Mathieson adds that team is taking a similar approach to growth in Southeast Asia. “We’re using the knowledge we’ve built in Australia to inform our next steps,” she says, adding that Singapore PUB, one of the most innovative water utilities in the world, has already purchased 1,000 units from Metasphere.
The future of remote monitoring
As utilities deal with climate change, staff shortages, and economic challenges, Metasphere sees an important role for its remote monitoring and data analysis solutions. “Utilities want to bring additional inputs into their decision-making,” O’Brien says. “They want to optimize their networks, and they must manage limited water resources. They also need to find ways to capture critical knowledge as the workforce ages and retires.”
Eventually, he adds, with these tools, utilities may even be able to automate their response. “That would free up managers to focus on the future. But it will take trust,” he says. “The water industry works on trust. Your technology may promise solve their pain, but they need to trust that it will work well and reliably.” By taking an organic approach to growth into new markets, Metasphere aims to continue to gain that trust with proven performance.