Water Distribution Companies and customers have had to sometimes engage in arguments because the latter think they are being cheated.
Though research has shown meter readers sometimes make mistakes, households cannot exonerate themselves from perceived over-consumption of water.
Thankfully, a smart prepaid water metering system developed by computer engineering students of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology is set to save the cost of operation of water distribution companies and ensure prompt payment of water bills.
A 2008 research showed water consumption in Kumasi was between 177 litres per day for high-income households to 70 litres for low-income households under continuous water supply.
The final year students Awudi Eric Okyere, Quarm Sylvanus and Ebenezer Azumah with the supervisor and Benjamin Kommey decided to design a meter which can measure the volume of water consumed electronically, synchronise meter record remotely, track and update metering data remotely.
“We wanted to design a meter that allows users to track water usage using an APP and Water companies can track all meters deployed all over the world,” said Ebenezer Azumah.
The system consists of a web app, hardware having, processor and a mobile APP.
As water begins to flow through the meter, it sends pulses to the controller and once it calculates it takes it to the remote server.
The remote server calculates the bill and gives a real-time plot of meter consumption and flow rate.
“When you’re not around and water is overflowing the plot will tell you water is still flowing, meaning, the tap has been opened or there’s a problem with the meter,” Said Quarm Sylvanus.
The mobile App uses mobile money to make a payment for water consumed.
“The customer can see the lists of all payments and the method. The customer can make a payment by entering his/her phone number, ID and amount,” added Awudi Eric Okyere.
The innovators say they will be incorporating Artificial Intelligence analytics which will enable the billing system study usage patterns and intelligently predict bills and recommend efficiency measures for users to meet their set targets.
Users will be able to detect leakages and remotely shut water supply to homes to prevent bill escalation and water wastage.
The Utility provider will also be able to use the system to intelligently detect leakages along with the distribution system. This will speed up their reaction times to deal with water leakages and reduce waste along the distribution line.
Apart from the obvious application of this innovation by utility provides such as Ghana Water Company Ltd, the innovators say there is also a potential application in community water systems and community irrigation systems.
The innovators also added that the invention will be useful in the Government’s One Village One Dam project, where water supplied to various farms from an irrigation source could be intelligently metered and accounted for.