They set themselves a target to save 1 million liters of water per day at schools in the Western Cape, and since the Smart Water Challenge started in November last year, already more than 19 million liters of water has been saved through the first 20 meters that was installed during the December holidays.

On average they are saving 200 000 litres per day, which has resulted in a money saving of more than R840 000 for the 20 schools that have gone through the first stage [maintenance] of the initiative. Furthermore, another 55 schools have been equipped with the smart meters so far, and they will go through the maintenance stage in the coming weeks. If this trend continuous, the 100 schools will certainly reached the target of saving 1 million liters of water a day, says Prof Thinus Booysen. In a discussion on Cape Talk 567 with talk show host Kieno Kammies on 6 February, Booysen said that funding for more than 350 schools had already been pledged  through The Smart Water Challenge.

Flickswitch SIM management

The initiative is a partnership between the Shoprite Group, Bridgiot [a remote intelligent and control soluitions startup], Cape Talk and Pragma Asset Management. Flickswitch has partnered with Bridgiot in providing their SIM management services at no charge.

The water-monitoring device used is called the Dropula and co-developed by Bridgiot and Prof Booysen, who is a lecturer in electronic and electrical engineering at Stellenbosch University. The Dropula water meters work by transmitting user-friendly consumption information to an Internet dashboard  and users are notified of any unexpected usage patterns via SMS and email.

SIMcontrol solution

Dropula uses Flickswich’s prepaid SIMcontrol solution, which enables the water meter data SIM cards to be monitored remotely through a cloud-hosted platform, which allows centralised management of large number of SIMs. Flickswitch specialises in prepaid services for M2M and IoT applications.

“From the early stages of Bridgiot’s Smart Meter development, Flickswitch has been very excited about its potential to drive social impact. No one could predict the scale of the current drought in the Western Cape, but using technology to curb the impact is a quick-win solution.With the help of Flickswitch’s SIMcontrol service, the smart water meters can be monitored remotely and provide real-time data of how much water and money has been saved at each school. This allows learners to see the day-to-day effect of their water saving behaviour.” says Kees Snijders, MD of Flickswitch.

Prof Booysen said that technology is at the forefront of addressing social issues. “The youth are the ones that need to understand the value of fresh water. Using technology, they now have a way to see what impact they can have,” he explains. “Through the benevolent support of partners like Flickswitch, we are able to affordably help schools save a lot of water and money, and raise awareness.”

Support overwhelming

Every 100 Dropula smart water meters can save enough water to cover 11 500 people’s daily water allowance. He said the support was overwhelming and 93 companies came on board with pledges to finance these meters. “One entity pledged R150 000 in sponsorships toward the project,” he said. It costs R30 000 per school to kick-start their water saving project.

“We all need to do our part to make sure the city doesn’t reach Day Zero, and we are proud to play a small part in this”, concludes Snijders.

The Smart Water Meter Challenge is open for any schools across the Western Cape to sign up, and there is also an option for corporates to pledge for the installation of Smart Water Meters.

To sign up a school or to pledge a Smart Water Meter, visit http://schoolswater.co.za/.

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