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How Yarra Valley Water is tapping APIs

The largest water retailer in Melbourne has rolled out application programming interfaces to improve operations and customer service

Keeping track of water quality used to take up to week at Yarra Valley Water, the largest retail water utility provider in Melbourne, Australia.

That changed when it started rolling out application programming interfaces (APIs) that would enable it to feed water quality data directly into its systems.

Glenn Wilson, general manager for service futures at Yarra Valley Water, said its laboratory services provider, Australian Water Quality Centre (AWQC), currently performs around 100,000 lab tests a year on its water supply, recycled water supply, and wastewater networks, wastewater treatment plants and receiving waterways.

The API integration has enabled laboratory results from AWQC to feed directly into Yarra Valley Water’s systems in real-time, reducing manual handling, data input errors, and improving data accessibility – allowing the operations teams to focus on more important tasks. 

While used to take a historical average of seven days for lab test results to land in Yarra Valley Water systems, it now takes just 1.8 hours to get the test results for chlorine, about 24 hours for turbidity and 25.1 hours for Escherichia coli bacteria.

The roll-out was enabled by MuleSoft’s AnyPoint API platform which connects apps, data, and devices using APIs, which have been one of the top IT priorities for organisations in the Asia-Pacific region as they look to co-innovate and develop new services with business partners.

Besides building APIs to facilitate faster ingestion of water quality test results, Yarra Valley Water has also built APIs for its Fault Calls Interactive Voice Response (IVR) call handling system.

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By building APIs to automate data sharing through the IVR, Yarra Valley Water estimates that it will be able to eliminate around 3,000 inbound phone calls a year, allowing customers to self-service critical information about interruptions and outages without needing to speak with an operator. 

Through its partnership with Deloitte and MuleSoft, Yarra Valley Water has already achieved operational efficiencies through the development of 15 APIs in the first six months of operation, including three experience APIs, three process APIs and nine system APIs. 

“Today’s global water sector faces a number of challenges – such as climate change, population growth and changing customer expectations – all of which call for new and innovative ways of doing things,” said Wilson.

“Yarra Valley Water’s work with MuleSoft represents a key strategic relationship, with their platform ultimately becoming the cornerstone of our future technology roadmap – in effect the glue that brings all of our different components together through an API-led approach.” 

Moving forward, Wilson said Yarra Water Valley will explore the use of more APIs as it looks to build more microservices-based applications using DevOps practices.

Asked about how the APIs will be kept secure so that they would not be used in supply chain attacks against Yarra Valley Water’s mission-critical operation technology (OT) systems, Wilson said the company’s OT systems are separated from its IT network and cannot be accessed using APIs.

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