Wednesday, 09 January 2019 11:15

Women's start-up to build tech for reviewing pipeline CCTV footage Featured

VAPAR co-founders Amanda Siqueira and Michelle Aguilar. VAPAR co-founders Amanda Siqueira and Michelle Aguilar. Supplied

A Sydney start-up founded by two women has received a grant of $25,000 from Jobs for NSW to develop technology that uses artificial intelligence to automate reviews of pipeline CCTV footage.

The company, VAPAR, was founded by civil engineer Amanda Siqueira and mechatronic engineer Michelle Aguilar.

The pair attended high school at Our Lady of Mercy College in Parramatta before studying engineering at the University of Technology, Sydney.

The technology that is to be developed will help change the way in which Australian councils and water utilities maintain their stormwater and sewerage assets.

In a statement, Siqueira said the technology aimed to save time for engineers who spend spend hundreds of hours manually reviewing pipeline CCTV inspection footage to identify problems.

“As an intern I spent eight hours a day watching this footage just looking for faults, a time-consuming and fatiguing process. Michelle and I thought up a better way of reviewing the footage that used Michelle’s background in enterprise automation and machine learning," she said.

“This grant helped us develop our platform and expand our technology to water utility customers including Northern Beaches Council, our partners in developing our prototype.”

vapar big

Michelle Aguilar and Amanda Siqueira.

Aguilar said the technology would allow local councils and water utilities to upload pipe CCTV inspection footage directly to a cloud platform for automatic analysis.

“Our system cuts a two-day process down to two minutes, reducing inspection costs by 30% and allowing on-site repair work to be carried out straight after the inspection,” she said.

“With over 200,000 kilometres of gravity pipelines in Australia alone and $450 million spent each year maintaining sewerage networks, early detection and repair of faults in pipelines avoids the expensive process of digging up pipes once they are broken.”

Jobs for NSW chief executive Nicole Cook said: “The NSW Government is committed to investing in the best and brightest start-ups and fast-growing SMEs and Jobs for NSW supporting businesses like VAPAR is a great example of this commitment."

VAPAR has also been chosen for a 12-month incubator program to develop business opportunities in India, supported by the NSW Government and innovation consultancy Fusion Labs.

“Our technology has huge potential not only in Australia but globally. In India, we will be talking to IT providers and government asset managers to learn as much as we can to develop business strategies for that market,” Siqueira said.

Photos: courtesy NSW Department of Industry


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.



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