Water is one of our most important resources, vital for every inhabitant of a city every single day. At the same time, most of us have an astonishingly unconscious relationship with how much water we use (and pay for). Many municipalities also have poor control over leaks and consumption. Last but not least, better utilisation and safeguarding of the planet's water is an integral part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
What is the right price for tap water?
We would never find ourselves paying as much for two tomatoes as we do for twenty, just because there's room for twenty tomatoes in the shopping cart. However, for water consumption, it is the case in many Norwegian municipalities that the cost for water consumption is calculated based on the size of the dwelling. Thus, a household consisting of one person pays as much as a family of five because their dwellings are the same size—two tomatoes for the price of twenty.
Leaks in the water network are another problem: across Norway, an average of 31% of water is lost to leaks, in some places significantly more. Not only has more than 200 billion litres per year disappeared, but since that water was already purified, the time, electricity, chemicals and effort associated with purification are lost as well. (Source: SSB - in Norwegian)
The solution is smart water meters: Data is recorded automatically every hour, instead of manually once a month or even annually! Thus, consumers get a clear, correct understanding of their water consumption and an understandable and fair bill of the water they actually use. In addition, both the municipality and the homeowner can detect and rectify deviations and leaks much faster than with traditional water meters. Several cities with smart water meters have today reduced leakages to 5%! The automated water measurement can also function as part of the public sector in other ways: For example, if an older person living alone suddenly stops consuming water, it may signify that something is amiss and they need help.
A traditional water meter
Fortunately, cities are stepping forward
Molde and Trondheim, two Norwegian municipalities, are currently trialling smart water meters programmes with their inhabitants. InfoTiles is proudly supporting both municipalities as they pave the way with these new technologies.
Correct number, guaranteed
In Trondheim, 60,000 households already have analogue water meters. Every month, residents read the meter themselves and submit the figures via text message or webform. Unfortunately, there are a few opportunities for errors to creep in through this manual process, and that is part of the reason why the municipality is now testing out a pilot with 130 smart water meters. In these households, data is read automatically every day, ensuring the quality of all data submitted. In addition, the householder no longer needs to read the meter and submit the reading. An inspiring pilot that we believe will produce welcome outcomes for both residents and Trondheim.
Molde is another municipality that has smart water meters on the roadmap right now. Today, 10% of their residents have a water meter, while the rest pay a fixed water cost based on the area of the house. As they explore the benefits of rolling out digital water meters, a key focus is to increase water awareness among the inhabitants, according to Bjarte Koppen, general manager of Molde Water & Wastewater. Translated from Norwegian: "We are massively wasting the world's most important natural resource. On average, more than one-third of water disappears into the ground each year, either due to water waste, leaks in the home, or municipal piping systems. With smart water meters, the leaks can be detected quickly and [we are] notified automatically," says Koppen.
What happens when water meters are superseded?
The water meters in a municipality are often purchased in several batches and from different suppliers with different software solutions. How do we then ensure efficient and accurate reading of all data? A natural concern from cautious municipal coffers. With InfoTiles' platform as the foundation, there is no concern that the purchase can't stand the test of time. The unique SaaS platform handles data submitted from all different types of meters and enables unified invoicing regardless of the water meter model. Thus, you can rest assured that citizens get the correct and timely water bills year-round. Our solutions also contribute to highly accurate monitoring of the pipe network, equipping the city for damage limitation and preventative maintenance against leaks.
Hydrologists and software developers working together
The main explanation behind InfoTiles' unique platform is simple: Hydrologists and software developers collaborate on the team. The hydrologists, often with operational experience within municipalities, co-create the solution with software developers, who know the challenges of integrating diverse water meter suppliers, user interfaces and data collection methodologies. Together, they develop a solution that integrates well with different suppliers while providing a predictable experience for municipalities and invoicing partners.
Want to know more about InfoTiles and our solutions? Get in touch!