Protecting water supplies key to IoT projects in South Africa

Water is so vital to all life that it hardly seems appropriate to designate World Water Day, this year on March 22, to merely a single day.  It is an ongoing challenge year-round to find technologies that protect water supplies and help promote conservation, especially in dry areas of the planet.

The use of IoT technology to protect water is emerging in South Africa. IoT.nxt, a subsidiary of Vodacom Group, recently set up two projects including a real-time view of a rural district municipality’s water infrastructure.

The project monitors for accurate consumption, and if a water meter is faulty, maintenance teams will get an email or SMS notification. Fixes can then be made in a short time.  These alerts include the GPS location of the meter, its status, flow rate and consumption.

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The other project is a smart water storage management system installed at a large pharma company in Johannesburg. The unnamed company has a complete view of water levels in eight water tanks and sends out alarms to notify the facilities manager when the water supply from the municipality has stopped arriving.  The manager also gets an alert when a water pump stops working.

South Africa is one of the 30 driest countries in the world. IoT.nxt relies on modems and software to provide analytics and revenue protection and even sets up smart pre-pay systems for utilities.

Beyond those two examples, IoT.nxt plans to focus next on tech to aid agriculture, a major water consumer globally.  The IoT.nxt ag application is in final stages of development, and should be tested and launched in the second quarter, said Richmond Nkambule, business development and sales at IoT.nxt.

World Resources Institute has documented the need for better water infrastructure globally. In 2017, the group said 6 billion gallons of treated water are lost every day in the U.S. due to leaky pipes alone.

Water use has increased sixfold in the past century, while climate changes are adding more stress to water supplies, according to a 2020 report by the United Nations. 

The UN released its latest report on water development report on March 21.

Vodafone UK launched a range of services for UK businesses to adopt IoT tech to track and monitor assets of all kinds across utilities, manufacturing and building management.