Vodafone New Zealand has expanded its partnership with FiberSense to Wellington, and is the first company in Aotearoa to utilise existing underground fibre cables to proactively monitor for natural disasters or civil works.
This includes being able to provide advance warning on unexpected third-party issues, for instance water or gas pipe leaks.
With seismic activity an ongoing concern in New Zealand, and accidental damage to utilities posing potential for major disruptions, the deployment involves a FiberSense unit providing 24/7 monitoring on more than 100kms of fibre cables within Vodafone's optical network in central Wellington, the company shared in a statement.
Precise vibration sensors the equivalent of a virtual sensor every 3-5m. This helps to improve network resilience for Vodafone services and are now available to third parties, to result in better reliability for customers.
This follows a successful pilot in Auckland and makes Vodafone New Zealand the first telco in Australasia to be able to deliver FiberSense's monitoring technology to customers.
As a result, Vodafone can provide utilities such as water and gas companies with data about underground issues while capturing vital data on seismic activity, plus enable other smart city applications such as traffic monitoring.
Applying fibre sensors to utilities is growing internationally to reduce costs and customer disruptions. For example, University of Birmingham research estimates the true economic cost of repairing an underground utility to be 29 times the direct (time and materials costs), so being quickly alerted to an accurate location of a fault should be a huge benefit.
Commenting on the pilot, Tony Baird, chief technology officer at Vodafone New Zealand, says, “Security and reliability are fundamental to operating a world-class network and the FiberSense service strengthens that capability.
"We are excited about the opportunity to utilise our network in new and innovative ways and working with FiberSense to turn our optical network into a massive sensing array is an exciting opportunity to expand our product offerings and provide new value-added services to our customers.
Dr Mark Englund, founder and CEO of FiberSense, explained, “We are excited by the rapid growth of our New Zealand sensing capability underpinned by our relationship with Vodafone and its first-class network. This agreement with Vodafone New Zealand also represents a new model for fibre owners to extract revenue opportunities from their existing assets.
“The new Wellington rollout paves the way for expanding the sensing capability to other clients including utilities, governments and municipal council offices.
"Protecting underground critical infrastructure from third party accidental damage is a common risk to these customers whether the impact is due to water leaks, power outages or natural disasters. Our Digital Asset sensing service helps mitigate the impact of these all-too-common events.
The FiberSense DigitalAsset service provides detection, prevention, and mitigation features to protect the Vodafone network and other underground critical utility assets by giving clients:
- Early warning/detection to identify and prevent potential fibre cable strikes before they happen
- Real time condition monitoring to enhance maintenance
- Integration with 'dial before you dig' services to deter damage around fibre cables
- Capture seismic data for assisting rapid response to damage from earthquake events
- Explore smart city and vehicle tracking use cases for clients that use the Vodafone network as a massive sensor array