Emergency management, and surviving a cyclone with data

In an emergency, there are many challenges associated with keeping water and wastewater services online for as long as possible while also looking after the infrastructure. It's why emergency management is such an important issue for the industry and how one company is looking to make a difference.

In an emergency, there are many challenges associated with keeping water and wastewater services online for as long as possible while also looking after the infrastructure. It’s why emergency management is such an important issue for the industry and how one company is looking to make a difference.

Kallipr designs and manufactures a range of Internet of Things (IoT) solutions that allow its clients to better measure and monitor their data in an easy-to-use end-to-end package. This reduces business downtime and operating costs while improving sustainability.

Kallipr’s asset-to-asset communication and remote monitoring solutions span a range of industries, including water management, wastewater management, water quality monitoring, and commercial metering. Kallipr can create custom packages and solutions to help customers reduce water leakage, measure water quality, and monitor capacity levels.

Townsville take on IoT

Kallipr worked with the Townsville City Council to roll out Kallipr radar sensors in the council’s sewer networks. When paired with the Captis devices, these sensors help manage and monitor water flow and levels throughout the wastewater network.

Alex Sims is Kallipr’s Technical Support Lead and was instrumental in the solution rollout for the Townsville City Council.

“The solution combined our data loggers with our radar sensors,” Sims said. “We also attached a third-party radar sensor for an AB comparison. It was a great opportunity to compare a well-known, market-leading radar sensor against our sensors. We have tied that sensor with custom brackets, pre-wiring termination and configuration.”

Kallipr then packaged the sensors and sent them to the end-user. This allowed them to be installed as a plug-and-play solution, solving the issue of collecting components from different suppliers and trying to figure out how to get them to work together.

“We do all of that ahead of the shipment, so it makes life much easier for our end-users,” he said. “That means all they have to do is install it.”

The combination rolled out by Kallipr is suited for the Townsville City Council partly because it leverages the MODBUS RS485 communications protocol. This protocol allows Kallipr and the end-user to sample a range of parameters collected by the radar sensor.

“Kallipr can capture really granular data,” said Sims. “We can also pull data from the radar sensor itself. We also provide over-the-air configurability, which allows us to remotely change and revise the configuration parameters.”

Creating a radar sensor

One of the challenges for water utilities is finding the right combination of devices to achieve its goals. However, Kallipr has taken a different approach.

“What we do is solve customer challenges,” Sims said. “Kallipr has found that it has the autonomy and flexibility to create and manufacture its own devices in Australia. In the past, we were hamstrung by dealing with suppliers overseas. That reliance on third-party sensors meant that we were dependent on supply chains, product availability, lead times, and other logistical issues.”

When considering these problems, Kallipr opted to create its own radar sensor. This meant it would have control of the components going into the sensor and autonomy over the supply chain. It also allowed Kallipr to create a unique firmware/software layer that allows for the remediation of devices or the introduction of new features.

“All of this means that we have full control of the costs of each individual component,” he said. “We can then significantly reduce the list price of our radar sensors.”

Better battery life

Another aspect of the Kallipr devices is their long battery life. Sims and his colleagues at Kallipr worked diligently to find a better way to do things.

“Typically, the third-party sensors…leverage device power to wake themselves up, take a measurement and then go back to sleep,” he said. “That device charge dissipates until the next time the sensor needs to do a reading. However, that means there is a large reliance on each sensor on the master device to supply that power as and when needed.”

Kallipr has integrated the power supply into the radar sensor itself. In terms of power delivery, every radar sensor is independent of the master device. This gives Kallipr an advantage when it comes to low-power remote IoT logging solutions.

“We’ve now doubled the power because the sensors are not chewing into the power demands of the master device,” said Sims. “It means our solution provides a longer battery life, often by several years. This is really important for water utilities and local councils. Many of our clients would otherwise need to be more conservative with the power they are using throughout their systems.”

Radar is becoming common among solutions sought by water utilities and local councils. By designing and manufacturing its own radar sensors, Kallipr can provide a more economical solution.


Environmental challenges were significant in rolling out the Kallipr solution. However, it is not just the heat and humidity that is commonplace in far north Queensland. The sensors need to work in highly challenging conditions.

“One of the issues in the sewers is the extremely high level of hydrogen sulphide gas,” Sims said. “It’s particularly prevalent in coastal areas like Townsville because the salt water accelerates the hydrogen sulphide gas process. Pairing that with the potential for liquid inundation and high temperatures, devices need to be able to withstand those extremes.”

Cyclone Kirrily rolled through Townsville not long after Kallipr and the Townsville City Council installed devices across the network.

“During the cyclone, a number of our devices were underwater,” he said. “In any high rainfall event, we want to monitor how the devices handle this extreme. In one area, we found that we had devices completely inundated in water for a long period. Despite this situation, there was no impact on the integrity of the solution.”

The devices drip-dried and continued to work as expected. Sims pointed out that the devices were far from their limitations.

“They could have remained flooded for much longer and much deeper without any impact on the solution,” Sims said.

Learnings from Kirrily

The night Cyclone Kirrily rolled through Townsville, the Kallipr devices picked up a blockage or partial blockage. The data suggested that this blockage occurred at around 8 pm. It caused water levels to rise steadily over the next 4 hours until the entire three-metre riser was completely inundated.

“In typical circumstances, thresholds can be configured on the device to alarm when the water level rises after the 8 pm blockage,” said Sims. “This early warning system allows maintenance crews to be deployed to the site before an overflow event occurs. Remote monitoring was paramount during the cyclone, ensuring the system cleared itself without needing onsite maintenance calls. This reduced the risks associated with callouts in unsafe conditions.”

This knowledge’s advantage was that the Townsville City Council would have had an exact location to start their troubleshooting if the blockage remained. They could identify where the flood started and work backwards from there.

Supporting solutions

Kallipr is working with the Townsville City Council to onboard and familiarise its staff with the platform. The platform will help council staff work with the devices and ingest that data into its own backend systems.

“The initial feedback from the Townsville City Council has been good,” Sims said. “It has highlighted the importance of finding the right data. The ability to show that the devices are all working, even after an extreme weather event, is a huge positive. It shows that the council has invested in a product that does not need to be ripped out and replaced.”

The Council has also said that the physical installations were straightforward, particularly with all the devices pre-wired and the brackets ready. It was just a matter of setting up the device, bolting it in, and confirming connectivity.

“Our staff are helping the council staff use the dashboard functionality to review the data. This will also help the council work with us to organise the notifications set up for specific water levels.

It’s the next step that is important. That’s where capturing the data moves into providing vital insights. It will allow the Council to understand what is happening across its network and mobilise operational teams to resolve issues before they become critical.

The future

Kallipr has been growing from strength to strength through its range of Captis radar sensors. Sims said there has been a lot of interest across Australia.

“We’ve worked a lot with councils and water utilities who are starting to see the benefits of early adopters digitising their networks,” he said. “There’s now a big push from the broader water industry to make these solutions as easy as possible to deploy.”

Many industries face labour and resource shortages, making it challenging for local councils to have a single manager dedicated to operational and maintenance teams. These groups would usually be appointed to install the devices and become the product champions within their organisations.

“More and more, we are seeing that labour dry up in councils, particularly in the regions,” said Sims. “There may be just one person who’s been in the role for a short period but manages multiple divisions.”

This is why Kallipr is working to develop solutions that can be installed, implemented and managed easily while forming part of their existing network and ecosystem. The thinking is that leveraging out-of-the-box solutions that are pre-terminated and configured for the receiving organisations is better for those organisations.

“Part of our improvements is talking about installation time. If you look at some of our larger installations, just a few more minutes per device to install can be a significant cost for a project in terms of time, money, and resource allocation.”

From Kallipr’s understanding, the water industry is feeling the pinch from customers and the government to better understand monitoring water, assets, chemical contents and other resources. It’s a big question for Kallipr as they seek to support customers in digitising and smartening their networks.

“The water industry has seen a significant uptake in utilities having unique IoT platforms and systems,” Sims said. “Kallipr has recognised this, and we allow for direct integration of our data into their platforms or via API. It means that water utilities do not have more dashboards to consider, as our data easily feeds into almost any central portal.”

This is why Kallipr is working together to show that a specialised system is not always the best option. An easy-to-manage solution makes things easier for every current, potential, and future customer.

For more information, visit https://kallipr.com/

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