With almost 40% of municipal water supplied in South Africa being lost before it even reaches the public, information and communications technology solutions provider Jasco Group states that there are tools and technologies available, such as big data, analytics and Software as a Service (SaaS), that can assist in monitoring and managing the use of water and potentially pinpointing where it is being lost or siphoned off.
Jasco’s cloud-based SaaS solutions use proprietary algorithms and big data analytics to measure water use and flow. Sensors are planted in pipelines to track hydraulic flow as well as the rate of dam drainage. The software, which is programmed with up-to-date geographical information, measures trends based on location and typical use.
It then uses its capabilities to compare current and historic data. An alarm is triggered by any anomalies found in predictive analysis, enabling Jasco to generate work order tickets for municipal teams to act proactively and with immediacy, to track, source and deal with whatever is causing the problem.
Repairs are recorded in order to monitor what the cause of the problem was and how consistently the problem returns. Jasco can then determine – using the SaaS – whether a team requires additional training or whether the pipes as a whole may need to be replaced.
“This solution can also be used for effective town planning and infrastructure upgrading. It can predict how much water an area will need, based on historical trends,” explains Jasco Group CEO Pete Da Silva.
Such a tool can assist with area growth and budget planning, reducing resources spent on water distribution, dams and sewage treatment if they are not needed, and direct them to where they will be most beneficial. Where infrastructure needs to be upgraded, municipalities can plan more accurately, taking into account the area’s common water issues and predicted population growth.
Da Silva explains that an effective SaaS water management tool must be comprehensive. It will oversee and monitor the entire function of water management, from the actual water supply and tracking, to the teams who are in charge of maintaining proper water functions.
The tool also tracks response times, fix times, common issues, enabling effective management of key performance indicators and assisting with managing customer expectations. It makes the best use of the available data coming from sensors and telemetry (which it also monitors) to provide an overall water management service.
He points out that, based on government statistics, South Africa loses about R7-billion a year in unbillable water, labelled nonrevenue water (NRW). South Africa’s uses about 60% of the potable water made available to the country and the remaining 40% is largely wasted, although this NRW includes the water used by firefighting utilities for instance.
Da Silva highlights that where the company has deployed its analytical data together with good management and good maintenance, NRW is reduced to below 10%.
Da Silva adds that solutions such SaaS tools have been successfully implemented across the globe, in countries such as Israel, Spain and Brazil and where these have been deployed not only has water loss been minimised, but customer satisfaction is noticeably higher, as a result of better service delivery, a reduced number of service calls and markedly better efficiencies, which ultimately reduce the cost to the customer.
He emphasises that it is important for municipalities in South Africa to have an analytical and digital mindset as a building block to creating ‘smarter’ cities.
“More municipalities are going down this path and I’m quite positive that this is going to become the standard to manage networks,” concludes Da Silva.