Auckland city skyline

Watercare, New Zealand’s largest water services provider, has begun installing smart loggers on Auckland’s commercial water meters to improve billing accuracy and help identify faults. 

The smart loggers will better manage water usage across the city and save on manual reads.

The installation is part of a complete managed service solution designed by Spark IoT that includes a device and SIM management platform to make it much easier to manage devices and data at scale. 

3,300 water meters have been logged and connected on the Spark NB-IoT network to provide usage information to Watercare thus far, with an additional 2500 meters to be logged.  

Watercare’s Smart Network Lead, Nish Dogra, says this technology has the potential to improve water management across Aotearoa. 

“Water is one of the most essential resources on Earth, and yet it is also one of the most undervalued – so it is vital to give more consideration towards how it is sourced, treated, and distributed, with technology being a key enabler of these processes,” Mr Dogra said.

“The new smart meters mean we can focus on efficiency gains thanks to having near real-time data across the connected non-residential properties, which provide a detailed overview of their water use. Faults and leaks are more easily identified and fixed, leading to cost and water savings across the board. 

“The data has already helped us to identify a number of large leaks on our customers’ premises, which we’ve flagged with them so they can fix them quickly. For example, one school’s water use had skyrocketed from about 6,000La day to more than 70,000. There was no obvious water leaking on the grounds, but a specialist leak detection agency was called in and they found a massive leak under volcanic rock that was losing about 46L every minute.  

“Identifying that leak early saved thousands of litres of water – and saved the school hundreds of dollars in their water bill.” 

Watercare supplies more than 400 million litres of water to Auckland every day, drawing water from 27 sources. 

“By integrating IoT technology with the water management processes, operators can be warned faster of potential process issues, detect leaks more easily and improve distribution,” Mr Dogra said.

Spark’s Principal Innovation Business Development, Manager Matt McLay, said the new technology will play a greater role in how Watercare and its customers manage water, to significantly improve efficiency and sustainability by transitioning to a smart water meter network. 

“We’re bringing together the best of smart water metering technology to help Watercare and its customers better monitor their water use efficiency, optimise billing accuracy, promote more efficient consumption and deliver maximum value to businesses. 

“Our new NB-IoT network is the perfect connectivity fit because it provides wide reliable coverage and is suited to battery-powered metering systems that send small amounts of data. On top of this, we’ve activated NB-IoT connectivity across our cell sites to provide 90 per cent population coverage.” 

Research analysis commissioned by Spark IoT and undertaken by NERA Economic Consulting showed that water metering solutions can provide a potential net benefit of NZ$28 million in market across a ten-year period up to 2027 from efficiencies and cost savings.

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