The Municipal Operations App for Water Management solution, developed by KwaZulu-Natal-based small enterprise Khanyisa Projects, provides managers of municipal departments with a fully integrated operational tool that enables the detection of water leaks by field workers.
The development of the app was funded by innovation commercialisation organisation the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and allows for measurement and recording of bulk meters, fault identification, repairs, verification and customer satisfaction measurement.
The system allows for automatic management reporting using dashboards and mapping including the display of hotspots.
The Municipal Operations App, supported by the TIA, was successfully demonstrated at the eThekwini municipality, which will contribute R40-million over the next four years to ensure the repairs of detected water leaks. The TIA is currently considering funding the expansion of the project into at least four other municipalities, says TIA natural resources head Daya Naidoo.
Owing to its successes in reducing nonrevenue water (NRW) and operation and maintenance response times, the app has been approved as an official app of the municipality and additional funding has been set aside to address the issues that have been identified and reported on.
"South Africa loses 30% of revenue water through water leaks. This revenue loss amounts to R9-billion a year. The Municipal Operations App was developed to allow members of the public and community leak inspectors to easily record details of leaks, including positions and level of urgency required," the TIA says.
South Africa is considered a water stressed country and loses a substantial amount of treated water through leaking pipes and inadequate infrastructure. Data gathered in 2012 from 132 of 237 municipalities showed that the country’s level of NRW is estimated to be 36.5%, of which 25% is as a result of leaks. Water loss management systems currently in use rarely work efficiently.
"Current systems are not seamlessly integrated with other water conservation and water demand management systems, such as meter reading infrastructure management or geographic information system (GIS) data sets.
"The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure's War on Leaks expanded public works programme has not been fully effective in many municipalities because there has not been a system to manage, repair and analyse the leaks in an effective manner. The Municipal Operations App technology provides this functionality," the TIA says.
In contrast to existing municipal applications, which only provide a communication link to members of the public and communities, the Municipal Operations App solution provides managers of different municipal departments and field teams with a fully integrated operational tool.
The app and data base reporting tools allowed the NRW team at eThekwini to review water balance improvements by comparing bulk meter results with individual meter readings. The app was, thus, able to assist with the saving of significant amounts of unaccounted water and consequently make significant savings in operational costs for the municipality.
Through the automated reporting system, the NRW manager was also able to identify fault and water loss hot spots, types of faults, and work efficiency of field staff.
Khanyisa Projects developed the Municipal Operations App system for municipalities to monitor and manage water and sanitation faults to significantly reduce water loss and improve responses to a variety of other water and sanitation challenges.
The technology was demonstrated in the eThekwini municipality where a database processing system was developed to allow the leak manager or water loss manager to visually track the leak status on GIS maps or directly on the database. Using the system, leak repair reports and area-based reports can easily be generated to identify hot spots, which would then be prioritised for infrastructure upgrades or similar.
The system is also being used to generate automated reports and dashboards based on the captured field data, which is then able to be translated into a water balance which many municipalities are unable to produce owing to the inefficient manner of data collection, verification and translation.