New Zealand’s largest water services provider Watercare is rolling out smart internet of things- (IoT) based loggers on water meters for commercial premises in Auckland.
Part of a managed service designed by Spark IoT, the investment, aimed to improve the management of water usage across the city, save on manual meter readings and improve billing accuracy for commercial premises.
The new system includes a device and SIM management platform to make it easier to manage devices and data at scale. Currently, 3300 water meters have been logged and connected on the Spark narrow-band IoT (NB-IoT) network with an additional 2500 meters to be logged.
“Water is one of the most essential resources on Earth, and yet it is also one of the most undervalued, so it is vital to give more consideration towards how it is sourced, treated, and distributed – with technology being a key enabler of these processes," said Watercare’s smart network lead, Nish Dogra.
The new smart meters mean Watercare could focus on efficiency gains using near real-time data to more easily identify issues such as faults and leaks.
The data has already helped Watercare to identify a number of large leaks. Water use at one Auckland school, for example, had skyrocketed from about 6000 litres a day to more than 70,000, but there was no obvious water leaking on the grounds.
A specialist leak detection agency then found a massive leak under a volcanic rock that was shedding around 46 litres a minute.
“Identifying that leak early saved thousands of litres of water – and saved the school hundreds of dollars in their water bill," Dogra said.
Spark’s principal innovation business development manager, Matt McLay, said the smart water meter network would play a greater role in how Watercare and its customers managed water to significantly improve efficiency and sustainability.
“We’re bringing together the best of smart water metering technology to help Watercare and its customers better monitor their water use efficiency, optimise billing accuracy, promote more efficient consumption and deliver maximum value to businesses," he said.
The NB-IoT network provided wide, reliable coverage suited to battery-powered metering systems that send small amounts of data. On top of this, NB-IoT connectivity had been activated across Spark's cell sites to provide around 90 per cent population coverage.
Watercare supplies more than 400 million litres of water to Auckland every day, drawing water from 27 sources.
In November, Spark passed one million "things" on its IoT network.