Automated condition assessment of



The Cataract Dam is heritage-listed in Cataract (formerly Appin), New South Wales, Australia, and provides water to the Macarthur and Illawarra regions, the Wollondilly Shire, and metropolitan Sydney. Completed in 1907 under the supervision of Ernest Macartney de Burgh, the dam is currently owned by WaterNSW, an agency of the Government of New South Wales.


Being over a century old, the Dam poses inspection challenges due to difficult accessibility and its critical importance.

The Dam is managed by Water New South Wales (WaterNSW) and was surveyed by Niricson to establish a data-driven condition assessment of the spillways at the dams to enhance dam safety reviews and inspections.


For the Cataract Dam inspection, Niricson employed DRONIC™ (patented multi-layered data collection and fusion architecture, along with a proprietary drone-equipped concrete sounding hammer) and AUTOSPEX™ (patent pending AI-backed platform for defect detection, quantification, and tracking for digital infrastructure condition survey) technologies. These technologies, including a drone-equipped concrete sounding hammer NCX and an AI-backed defect detection platform, collected optical imagery and acoustic sound data.

Collaborating with WaterNSW, the team mapped defects like cracking and delamination on the dam, providing efficient and detailed coverage. Niricson’s UAV-sounding mechanism enhanced drafting efficiency, reduced documentation time and eliminated condition uncertainties, mitigating asset risk.

Niricson Provided WaterNSW with a detailed 3D model of the structures along with quantified defect maps at 1mm pixel resolution through its patented cloud platform AUTOSPEX™.

Niricson’s patented technology and software are integral to creating a detailed assessment of the WaterNSW’s Cataract Dam. The data and models generated from this survey can be used to support multiple objectives including:

  • Develop long-term maintenance plans
  • Enhance dam safety inspections and insights
  • Collaborate with contractors and consultants on specific repair programs
  • Maintain an accurate record of the asset’s condition

By taking this initiative WaterNSW succeeded in creating a digital baseline of those assets powered by Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, which is repeatable in the future and will allow tracking of changes in conditions over time to establish trends and allow data-driven decision making.

In Digital Enablement we (WaterNSW) are partnering with Dam Safety in Asset Planning and Delivery to bring new insights into the performance of our most critical assets. In doing so we have partnered with Niricson, a global leader in the digital revolution of condition assessment and risk management to use drones to acquire data that is then processed by Artificial Intelligence to produce data relating to cracks, delamination, thermal, and spalling of concrete dams and spillways. Combining powerful augmented visualization with informed insights to make more informed data driven decisions more quickly


Digital Engineer of Operational applications of GIS and Asset systems, Water New South Wales