Beyond Dots on a Map

Yarra Valley Water (YVW) is the largest of Melbourne’s water corporations, providing water supply and sewerage services to over 1.8 million people and over 50,000 businesses in the northern and eastern suburbs of Melbourne.

YVW have been using Smartrak’s Visual Intelligence Suite for 5 years. Initially starting out as a means to audit and locate vehicles and crews in the field, YVW’s application of Smartrak™ solutions has expanded greatly.

YVW has grown its use of Smartrak over the years, with 114 individual assets being tracked through Smartrak’s Visual Intelligence Suite across a mix of vehicles, assets and personal locators. Today, YVW uses the Visual Intelligence Suite to serve a range of job functions, assisting with OH&S, insurance, fleet management, and fleet servicing.


Safety is a core business focus at YVW. With many contractors and employees working in solitary and remote roles, as well as the requirement to operate in high risk situations (i.e. following bushfires and storms), YVW looks for every available opportunity to improve staff safety.

YVW addresses safety across two different sections of the business. The safety of contractors and staff using their company fleet, and their personnel and contractors working at YVW installations or remotely.

There has been an increased focus on personal safety at YVW and over 40% of Smartrak products in use are the Personal Locators. The uses of personal locators are varied across the business, supporting many contractors and off-site employees working in high-risk roles.

“A lot of our staff work in isolation, we’ve got a variety of different roles across the business, including staff who will go out to speak to customers about unpaid bills, or staff going to remote properties and locations to carry out audits of our assets. It’s used around these types as a lone worker type of risk control” explains Dave McLennan – Field Compliance Officer, who has been extensively involved in the integration of Smartrak across the business.

Dave highlights the value of employees being assigned to a dedicated personal locator, as it enables the accurate and fast location of the individual should an issue arise.  The staff at YVW appreciate the additional security and peace of mind they feel when carrying the personal safety device.

“Talking to the staff using the personal devices, they certainly said it made them feel a lot more comfortable that they had the ability to actually hit a distress button without someone knowing. It gives them that comfort of being able to get a response without notifying the person who’s potentially putting them in danger” commented Dave.

Contractors have also taken advantage of personal safety devices to help log on-site incidents. Their staff deploy the distress button to log the time and location of workplace incidents that have occurred on site. This unique integration wasn’t originally intended in the roll-out of the personal safety devices but has proved valuable in recording and reporting workplace incidents.

Fleet Safety is another aspect that YVW monitors closely. Using a range of features included in the fleet management product suite, YVW is able to monitor and respond to elements surrounding safety. To date this has helped address two key areas. Driver behaviour, which is reviewed and reported on only following public complaints, and GIS overlays, specifically their operating areas and the Country Fire Authority (CFA) feed for issues such as bushfires and other emergencies.

On rare occasions, YVW’s receives public feedback and complaints about driver behaviour. YVW is now able to verify these reports using Smartrak, to first check if there was a vehicle in the reported area, and then review the driving behaviour that is captured. If negative driving behaviour is identified, the information can be fed through the appropriate channels to promote awareness and positive behavioural change.

YVW also use a range of geographic information system (GIS) overlays to provide additional intelligence and visibility across the Smartrak EyeQ visual intelligence map.The ability to overlay data on the core map provides direct insights that would otherwise be difficult. It can also provide additional information points from units such as the Garmin navigation device.

YVW have used GIS overlays to great effect, overlaying their service area so they can see their areas of operation as well as an overlay of the Country Fire Authority’s (CFA) feed. The CFA feed provides a live overlay of bushfire zones in Australia which has been incredibly beneficial in ensuring staff are kept safe, but also be aware of areas that might be damaged as a result of fires.

“We put our YVW service area and bushfire overlay zones on there, which has been great from being able to tell where the works are occurring that should be taking place in those areas, depending on the different fire danger days.”

Dave says this has been an invaluable feature of Smartrak’s Visual Intelligence Suite, and provides a lot of clarity and simplicity in checking where the dangers of fires are against location of staff and assets.

“Last year we had a number of fires that affected our area. The incident controllers were able to direct our staff the safe way to get out of bushfire areas by using Smartrak.”

Operating around bushfire areas, both areas at risk and those that have been affected bring with them a range of risks. Even when operating in conjunction with the CFA and with the support of CFA staff and vehicles, YVW wanted to ensure they had their people covered to ensure their safety.

“When Black Saturday happened, we had to go back into those bushfire areas and start to do works to actually try to get the water back on so that the CFA could fight fires. We had to go back in and turn some of the mains back on, and we needed to know where those crews were. As much as they’re being accompanied by a CFA truck, we still needed to know where our people were to be able to manage them and their safety.”

For Dave, this has completely changed how YVW can operate in these scenarios. Providing up to date insights and the overlay of information to provide clarity without referencing multiple maps and feeds.

“In incidents and occasions when you need to do things immediately and with ease, Smartrak has been a godsend.”


For Dave, one of the unexpected benefits that YVW has realised is the validation of insurance claims.

“We were able to use it to validate insurance claims.”

“A number of times we’ve had people contact us to say your vehicle turned around in my driveway and either clipped my fence or letterbox.”

Without any way to accurately dispute the information, YVW would have to settle the claims. With the introduction of fleet tracking using Smartrak’s Visual Intelligence Suite, Dave had data and evidence available to validate these claims; confirming if there had been a YVW vehicle at the location during the date and time that claims were reported. For YVW the ability to validate claims have resulted in savings of over $125,000 a year.

For Dave, the benefits extended beyond that though. With the ability to investigate claims straight away, the customer experience and response to these claims was drastically improved.

“Being able to prove that we were there in situations and are liable also made payments in those situations easier too. The interaction with our customer is easier because straight away you can confirm if we were there or not.”

The mitigation of claims also applied across accidents and collisions on the road with other road users. Dave recalls a case of a collision between a YVW ute and a semi-trailer where he was able to use the GPS data of the vehicle to absolve YVW of any fault.

“At the time of the insurance claim, they (insurance) deemed it to be both at fault because they had a front-on impact. We were able to verify through GPS data how fast our guy was going and where the point of impact actually was. And he was clearly on his side of the road and the semi had come around the corner on the wrong side of the road. So instead of us having to cover the cost of repairs, we paid nothing – that would have saved us hundreds of thousands of dollars in that instance.”

Like many organisations, YVW has had to look into risk mitigation around theft. Being an organisation that provides critical infrastructure, the stakes are high and valuable commercial items such as backup generators are vital to ensure their systems remain operational.

Often these backup generators sit on sites, in preparation for events such as power outages and line repairs to ensure uninterrupted operation of infrastructure. For Dave, the cost of this equipment being stolen is significantly more than just the cost of replacement.

“We can’t afford to lose generators on these sites because if you do, you potentially lose a whole zone in a power outage”.


YVW has introduced non-powered asset tracking to high-value equipment such as generators to ensure they are monitored, and if stolen can be quickly located and recovered. Smartrak’s Remora non-powered asset tracker is a long-life battery operated GPS device that comes with an integrated anti-tamper mechanism, alerting the user if removal is attempted.

For YVW, this provides peace of mind that critical infrastructure is in place should emergencies arise.

The additional tracking capabilities also provide peace of mind should a theft occur. The flow on effect of instances such as this can have an impact on the business. Many of the vehicles allocated by YVW are role and task specific, rented vehicles aren’t always a viable option. If a vehicle is stolen it can result in a backlog of jobs which can then impact customers and the service they receive.

Fleet Management & Servicing

With over 100 vehicles in the fleet, managing the servicing of every vehicle is a massive undertaking. Smartrak’s vehicle servicing module has enabled YVW to streamline the process saving hours in administration and management of the fleet servicing.

Being able to easily look up the record of the odometer from the Smartrak’s visual intelligence suite allows the team to make better and more informed decisions around servicing and keeping track of required services in advance of when they are due.

Identifying when a vehicle’s next service will be due, either by time or distance travelled streamlines what was previously a manual process of regularly checking paper logbooks and/or calling drivers to check the odometer.

Smartrak reporting tools in the visual intelligence suite have also helped to drive fleet decisions through better business intelligence. Through better tracking and management of the vehicle fleet, YVW has benefited from identification of under-utilised vehicles and streamlined a decommission program.

Through the identification of these underutilised resources, YVW was able to either re-allocate them or get rid of them earlier than planned, saving ongoing costs of keeping them in the fleet.

Last year YVW went through a large decommission program of 116 vehicles in a 30 day period. A huge task for any company.

Using the online support portal, YVW was able to track the process and access a central record of all the activities. Smartrak provides a central portal which contained all this information and provided a historical log enabling the data to be cross-checked in a central and easily discernible location.

For Dave and YVW, Smartrak has been pivotal in providing the tools to make more informed business decisions and delivering a diverse range of cost savings across the fleet. Beyond that, the improved safety measures ensure their staff and contractors are safe and supported, providing them with the confidence to perform their jobs.