Declan Smit posing for picture

Meet the latest addition to our team: Declan Smit

Meet the latest addition to our team: Declan Smit!

Declan Smit has joined VAPAR as your Customer Success Analyst; with strong data analysis background, he will be creating interactive Power BI dashboards and gathering user insights from the platform to improve the customer experience.

To share a little more about Declan, we asked him to answer some questions about his background, interests and more.

Tell us a bit about your background.

DS: When I was younger, I travelled around the world in places like South America and later to the UK. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do as a career, so I did a Business and Management degree at the University of Portsmouth. I really enjoyed my time there; I studied a variety of subjects but was drawn to process improvement and reducing inefficiencies. Once I completed university, I started my role at South West Water, analysing the data and applying what I learnt from my studies. In a short period, I grew in that role to become one of the main data analysts in my area of specialisation, developing processes and learning new ways of presenting data to a high level.

What made you choose VAPAR?

DS: At South West Water I started to develop my analytical skills however felt limited in the access I was given. The opportunity to join VAPAR was very enticing as they have given me the freedom to be creative with displaying data and further my skills in a supportive environment.

What are your interests outside of work?

DS: I enjoy watching all sports, but I’m obsessed with everything about football. I play for 2 teams at the weekend and run the Instagram page for the Sunday team. We are currently fighting for 1st place in the league after a good start

For more information about the latest developments at VAPAR, you can connect with Declan via LinkedIn or our Contact page.

Paul Cooper introduction

Meet the latest addition to our team: Paul Cooper

Meet the latest addition to our team: Paul Cooper!

Paul Cooper photo

As a Software Engineer, Paul Cooper is focused on delivering high-quality, reliable and performant code for the VAPAR platform.

To share a little more about Paul, we asked him to answer some questions about his background, interests and more.

Tell us a bit about your background.

PC: I was born in the South West of England in a town called Plymouth. I came to Australia when I was two and grew up on a naval base in Darwin and then South East Queensland. Since leaving school, I’ve lived in Sydney, Paris and Berlin. I’ve always been interested in technology, especially software development. There is beauty in solving problems digitally because (almost) all variables can be controlled. You can remove almost all randomness and subjectivity and create a solution that will work every time.

Then there is the ability to scale the solutions almost infinitely. When a product is built in 1s and 0s rather than bricks and mortar, it can be copied and shared endlessly. This allows technology to solve global problems via what is essentially just the communication of ideas and information. I’ve always felt this way, and so I first taught myself to code, then built video games, and then built software that optimised digital ad campaigns. This introduced me to the magic of machine learning. Now I’m here.

How did you come to join VAPAR?

PC: Infrastructure is really fascinating part of our society because it is both essential and often invisible. Until it isn’t working. The number of moving parts and variables to consider, the complexity of the issues involved and the massive benefits to everyone if we can get it right are all reasons that drew me to VAPAR. Start-ups are places where you will get to work with the most cutting-edge technology, solving the most important problems – and often with the most interesting people. That’s definitely the case here!

What are your interests outside of work?

PC: Although a lot of my life revolves around technology, I also love reading/watching/listening to podcasts and books surrounding philosophy, history and culture. Economics and psychology too. I think all these areas of interest stem from a desire to understand how everything works, why we do the things we do and what the common threads are across cultures and times. I also enjoy hanging out with my black and white border-collie Maverick.

For more information about the latest developments at VAPAR, you can connect with Paul via our Contact page.

Joe Bramwell Smith joined VAPAR

Meet the latest addition to our team: Joe Bramwell-Smith

Meet the latest addition to our team: Joe Bramwell-Smith!

Picture of Joe Bramwell Smith

As a product manager Joe loves to help build the strategy, standards and process that make it possible to make the right decisions about why and what to build.

To share a little more about Joe, we asked him to answer some questions about who he is and how this informs his approach to product: 

Tell us a bit about your background?

JBS: I have a fairly varied background and have worked in a mixture of development and product roles across large media, publishing and tech companies. A large part of my career has been spent at start-ups working on e-learning, social media, e-commerce and now engineering. I also have a degree in Mining Engineering.

How did you come to join VAPAR?

JBS: I loved what VAPAR are doing to solve a huge customer need with cutting edge tech. A great solution that smartly addresses a job to be done for the customer.

Where did your interest in Product Management come from?

JBS: In my prior career as a developer, I worked on lots of different projects with large groups of smart people, some of which were huge successes and some spectacular failures. I started to grow very interested by the ingredients that made the successes happen. Product management was my choice of career from then on.

What are your interests outside of work?

JBS: I spend time with my family and make furniture, surf and head out on the bike.

What is your advice for a better tomorrow?

JBS: There are always endless tasks and things to worry about. Try to prioritise what really matters to you.

For more information about the latest developments at VAPAR, you can connect with Joe on LinkedIn here or reach out to us via our Contact page.

Megan Clarkson

Meet the latest addition to our team: Megan Clarkson

Meet the latest addition to our team: Megan Clarkson!

Megan Clarkson posing for photo

After completing her Bachelor of Science degree, Megan went on to work in various industries all over the world, and we are now excited to welcome her to her latest adventure with us at VAPAR! 

A Little Bit About Megan: 

Megan grew up in a small coastal city in South Africa, where she studied and completed her BSc degree. From there, she went on to expand her horizons by travelling, which led her to live and work in three new countries, each rewarding her with new experiences of different people, workforces and industries. 

Wanting to know more about her, we asked her a few questions: 

After all your travels, why VAPAR? 

MC: Throughout my travels, I’ve experienced the effects of poorly maintained water systems. Not only does it affect your personal life but work life as well, which then further hinders your personal life. It is a vicious cycle that is a detriment to your quality of life. Personally, I’ve experienced this in my hometown; we currently have a countdown to no water! VAPAR provides a solution that is efficient and time-saving, which is pivotal to fixing a currently broken system. Not only am I privileged to have the opportunity to work with such an innovative team, but I am proud to be a part of the change. Plus, it is co-founded by women- how powerful! 

Where do you see yourself in ten years? 

MC: Who knows?! The past ten years have proven just how fast the world is developing and adapting; each season brings a new normal that you could never have predicted. I hope not to stay tied down to a limited idea of what I could become for the next ten years and instead ride the wave, expect the unexpected and be daring. Each new season I want to expand on what I hope to become and one day be amazed at all the things I did that I never thought could be a possibility.

Are you a coffee or tea person? 

MC: Neither- I know, it’s shocking. 

For more information about the latest developments at VAPAR, you can connect with Anthony on Linkedin here or reach out to us via our Contact page.

Anthony Woodhouse posing for a picture

Meet the latest addition to our team: Anthony Woodhouse!

Meet the latest addition to our team: Anthony Woodhouse!

Anthony woodhouse posing

Starting his career in the Water Utility Industry in 2013 at Wannon Water as an Asset Database/Condition Assessment Technical Officer and progressed from there into the Asset Condition and Performance Officer role, taking on condition assessment programs and setting inspection priorities and repair recommendations.

Tell us a bit about your background?

AW: I’ve had a wide and varied range of jobs throughout my career. From working in the local abattoir, hospitality venues, engineering CAD, land development and survey, plumbing to asset management. Any and all the experiences that I’ve had along the way have put me in the position I am now in and in good stead for the future.

Before VAPAR, Anthony worked at his local water utility and managed the sewer inspection program and renewal scheduling utilising CCTV data that is now the chair of the Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) WSA05 – Conduit Inspection and Reporting Code.

How did you come to join VAPAR?

AW: I have always had an interest in sharing my knowledge with other utilities and this was a perfect opportunity for me to do that. In my previous role I was responsible for managing a sewer inspection program (approx. 50km/yr), a database of 13yrs of previous inspections, proposal of maintenance and renewal actions which is everything that is within the VAPAR platform just made a whole load easier.

What are your interests outside of work?

AW: Raising 5 boys take a lot of time but we are very interested in the outdoors i.e. camping, fishing and mountain bike riding. We also have a significant vegetable garden which everyone in our family helps out with.

What inspires you in your journey??

AW: In one word, family. It is a huge priority for me as I want to help provide the best I possibly can for them, not only that but help make the places that we live better and improve their life experiences.

For more information about the latest developments at VAPAR, you can connect with Anthony on Linkedin here or reach out to us via our Contact page.

Nathan banner

Meet the latest addition to our team: Nathan Muggeridge!

Meet the latest addition to our team: Nathan Muggeridge!

Starting his career in water engineering, Nathan’s passion is to collaborate with different people and explore technologies to create change that leads to a positive outcome for all, which includes VAPAR’s customers. We are incredibly proud to have him join our team.

To share a little more about Nathan, we asked him to answer some questions that illuminate the personality behind the talent.

Tell us a bit about your background?

NM: At age 14, I knew I wanted to become a water engineer; I loved spending time in and around water (still do) and had a motivation to build things (still do). This led me to a 20-year career in the UK water section that has covered a multitude of roles and sectors; working for large consultancy to produce hydraulic simulation models, setting up my own consultancy business that delivered projects ranging from the development of a £100m investment plan for London’s sewers to establishing multi-million-pound sewer maintenance contract.

Other experience includes extending the life of a start-up by 3 years, initiating and implementing a multi-award winning behavioural change programme and product managing a number of software solutions. For the last 2 years, I have been working for National Highways, helping establish their Strategic Investment Planning capability, which saw the team grow from just me in Feb 2019 to over 100 people involved in creating the multi-billion pound renewals investment plan for 2025 to 2030.

How did you come to join VAPAR?

NM: I joined VAPAR as I wanted to help build something new again and do it using new technology. I’m motivated by using new technologies to drive changes that lead to positive outcomes, and this is ultimately the purpose of VAPAR. Furthermore, my previous experience has been based around infrastructure asset management. I wanted to expand this to include digital asset management, using data and new technologies to drive better investment decision making.

Where did your interest in Asset Management come from?

NM: Like so many people, I hate seeing waste and Asset Management provides a logical mechanism for minimising wastage. Plus, I like how the principle is transferable from sector to sector, and most sectors involve some form of gravity pipework.

What are your interests outside of work?

NM: Spending time with my family, road cycling, mountain biking in the winter, paddleboarding in the summer, walking the dog and sailing. Other interests include helping to coach a local swimming club for a couple of hours a week and listening to business or comedy podcasts.

What advice would will you give anybody for a better tomorrow?

NM: Be curious and comfortable with change. The world is always changing, and you should be changing to make it better.

For more information about the latest developments at VAPAR, you can connect with Nathan on Linkedin here or reach out to us via our Contact page.

AI in Sewer

AI in Sewers

AI in Sewers

The importance of the pipe network beneath out feet

Our cities and suburbs are supported by a vast underground network of water, wastewater and storm water infrastructure. This network of gravity pipes, pumps and filtration systems play a very important role in the quality of our life, eliminating disease, safeguarding the environment, and protecting communities.

However, parts of this aging infrastructure are nearing the end of its useful life and now (more than ever) requires closer attention. Without attention, this situation is not sustainable.

Most of our water and wastewater infrastructure were installed during the 19th century and municipalities are facing the challenge of broad-scale infrastructure replacements or repairs costing hundreds of millions of dollars.

Adding to all this is the changing climate factor, meaning systems that were designed 30 or so years ago may not be sufficient to support everchanging environment around it.

To extend the life of infrastructure, reliance on smart city technology capabilities is critical. By creating visibility into buried assets to understand the conditions of underground infrastructure, utilities can compare current performance with expectations, and predict when and where problems may arise. This also leads the way to prioritisation of maintenance work, decreasing downtime of the assets, resulting in reduced interruptions.

Today’s technology

With sensors and actuators becoming more cost effective, an array of technologies is becoming available for the pipe industry. For pressure pipes or pipes transporting materials under high pressure, static sensors are being used to help monitor the health of the asset. In sewer and stormwater applications, inspection by video still is widely adopted with assessment being carried out visually by an expert.

With operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) coming together, data that were once only available in isolated networks is now available via the world wide web. What this means is CCTV operators are no longer needing to download inspection videos to a hard-drive in order to assess the condition of the pipe in the office, instead they can upload the video file over the cloud.

AI at your service

With more data being available and accessible, a path has been paved for advanced technology such as artificial intelligence or AI. These smart algorithms feed on data, in-fact, the more data that is available, the quicker and more accurate an AI system can become.

Like other technologies, AI is tool to better understand a problem so to make data driven decisions. One of the areas where AI is helping the pipe industry is in the field of video processing. The traditional means of CCTV condition assessment presents several challenges including time taken to review the videos and identify defects, the operator subjectivity and field conditions making visual inspections difficult.

The AI models are pre-trained to detect certain anomalies, in this case pipe features and defects. The inspection video is then ingested and inferenced against the trained model. The result is the identification of the type and importance of anomalies.

VAPAR’s AI

Integrating the above-mentioned technologies, the VAPAR.Solutions platform leverages cloud computing and its AI engine to automatically assess inspection videos that users upload. The platform is accessed via any web browser where videos can be uploaded, analysed, manually audited by an expert (if required), with a report generated and stored, eliminating the need for hard drives to back up the video data and corresponding reports.

With this approach, both asset owners and CCTV contractors are reducing the time taken for assessments, standardising the process to remove any subjectivity and utilising AI to deep dive into the data to get better outcomes.

In 2020, VAPAR worked with asset owners in Victoria, Australia, where the results showed that the solution outperformed the same inspection carried out manually. The AI algorithm missed fewer defects and was more accurate in grading the pipes. To date, VAPAR has processed over 3 million images, which means the AI has only become quicker and more accurate.

Industry impact

With the need for the pipe network needing special attention, technology is adding another lens to take a closer look. It’s empowering engineers, operators, and decision-makers to make data driven decisions more cost effectively and proficiently.

Read more about our case studies here: CASE STUDIES

Manju Mani smiling for picture

Meet the latest addition to our team: Manju Mani!

Meet the latest addition to our team: Manju Mani!

Starting her career in civil engineering, Manju’s passion for advocating simple solutions to global problems drew her to the field of marketing and eventually to VAPAR! We are proud to have her join our team.

To share a little more about Manju, we asked her to answer some questions that illuminate the personality behind the talent.

Tell us a bit about your background and how you came to join VAPAR?

MM: I hold my Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering and MBA in Marketing. I have worked in sales for four years, which helped me learn a lot about consumer perspectives and expectations practically. I believe in honesty and integrity, which won me customers and results.  

Amanda and Michelle are my inspiration to join VAPAR. I love how these girls are slaying it in the tech/engineering industry! They are incredible role models for me, and I am sure I can learn a lot from them.

Where did your interest in Marketing come from?

MM: As a kid, advertisements always caught my attention. So being creative is very important to me as it helps me stand out from my peers and gives me the satisfaction of being different. Also, I am a people person, love to help people with solutions for their needs in both personal and professional life.  

What are your interests outside of work?

MM: I love to sing and rap. Oh yes! I can rap Eminem’s Rap God fast bit! 😀  

If you could go back and relive a moment in your life, what would it be? 

MM: Any day with my mom is good as gold.

What is that one piece of advice you will give anybody for a better tomorrow?

MM: Be appreciative of others. It is the easiest positive emotion.

For more information about the latest developments at VAPAR, you can connect with Manju on Linkedin here or reach out to us via our Contact page.