Australian Government Investigating Joint Venture with Xerox’s Eloque for Bridge Monitoring
Back in May 2021,, Xerox announced a joint venture between its Eloque business and the Victoria state government in Australia. Under the partnership, Xerox’s Eloque would deploy fiber-optic sensors to monitor the structural health of bridges in Victoria in Australia, and then relay the information in real-time to engineers, who could then proactively make any needed repairs.
However, the partnership came to an end in August 2022, and the bridge-monitoring program was ended. Xerox, which had invested $7 million into the joint venture, said it agreed with the Victoria government to shut down the partnership when it realized developing the sensors into a commercial product “would require more efforts than initially expected.”
According to an Australian news source, The Age, Victoria’s public sector financial watchdog is now investigating whether bias influenced the state government’s 37.5 percent share investment in the joint venture, which ultimately cost the state government $20 million.
In a recent update, the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office said it will investigate whether the state government’s decision “to enter into the Eloque joint venture arrangement was transparent, evidence-based and free from bias”. It also said the investigation was “important to ensure government investments of public money are appropriately informed and consistent with policies and principles.”
The Age reported in October that the Victoria government paid almost $10 million to install Eloque sensors on state bridges despite the devices not working as expected.
It also said that several former senior Eloque employees had reported there had been warnings that the sensors could not reliably monitor bridges for structural weakness, and the technology needed more work before it was ready to be sold.
A Victoria Department of Transport spokesman said the government will fully cooperate with the Auditor-General’s investigation.