GREENING AND ENVIRONMENT

Microsoft provides water-saving solution to Western Cape

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Microsoft in partnership with the Gift of the Givers NGO and the Western Cape Government (WCG) Department of Health announced the initiation of a project to install smart water meters in hospitals across the Western Cape province. The WCG Department of Health has been considering introducing smart metering at health facilities as one of its interventions in response to the water crisis.

“Since the onset of the water crisis, the WCG Department of Health has actively promoted the message to use water sparingly and avoid wastage to both staff and patients at health facilities. Smart metering, with the ability to measure and report consumption frequently and accurately, will enable facility managers to display actual consumption against targets quickly, which will enhance the message and provide an added incentive to use water sparingly,” says Winton Gibbs, Chief Civil Engineer at the WCG Department of Health.

“With the generous funding of Microsoft, working in collaboration with Gift of the Givers who are coordinating the project, the Department is being enabled to initiate and implement this strategy more quickly and widely throughout the province. The Department is very appreciative of the Microsoft and Gift of the Givers partnership in enabling water savings and increased efficiency in the management of this resource,” says Gibbs.

How Smart Water Meters Save Water

The smart water meters actively monitor and report water usage while alerting on wastage through a dashboard which can be monitored in almost real time by Department officials. The benefit of this project will be making reliable information immediately available to facility managers, empowering them to set goals for managing to take quick remedial action to avoid wastage.

The solution uses a reputable and internationally-accredited smart water meter that is used by most utilities globally to enable the transmission of water consumption data and alarms in near real time. Using the Ontec platform, the meters can communicate either using their own 3G radios or be integrated into existing networks such as those used for smart electricity meters. The Ontec platform’s value is its ability to provide data visualization, analytics, monitoring, notifications and alerts in one place to the user.

“Data on the amount of water clinics and hospitals should be using, depending on size and services that the facilities offer, has already been collected. The new meters will be able to quickly pinpoint when more water is being utilized or wasted and point officials to a problem which can quickly be fixed,” says Zoaib Hoosen, Managing Director of Microsoft South Africa.

The smart meters are being supplied by Kamstrup, a major player in the electricity metering space, who are now seeing increased demand for smart water meters. The advantage of the Kamstrup meter is that it can take readings at much shorter intervals than regular meters – as often as every 10 minutes. A typical meter will only take a reading once or twice a day and are intended just for billing purposes. Having a short sample window allows for much higher detail or ‘resolution’ in recording and displaying water consumption patterns, which is necessary to detect leaks or other anomalous water consumption such as theft.

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