At Saft, we believe that IoT can push the boundaries and help to find answers to our common causes. We believe that together, we can make the world a safer, more efficient and more sustainable place. That’s why we wanted to talk to you about a project that is both dear and inspiring to us: CityTaps.
CityTaps is a recent start-up, created in 2015, which aims to solve a global issue: nearly 1 billion urban people live without access to running water at home.
In developed countries, running water has become a commodity. Few people are actually aware that in much of the developing world, and in poor urban environments, many people still do not have running water at home. Cities are growing rapidly - by 5% every year in Africa alone - putting a strain on water utility infrastructure that suffers from lack of investment.
Personal taps, monthly bills and high upfront connection costs are not an option for people with irregular or low incomes who are thus faced with the daily challenge of procuring water. Alternatives such as public water points, delivery services and chlorine pills are often unreliable and can be up to 15 times more expensive than piped water provided by utility companies. Women and children are particularly affected: over 200 million hours are spent fetching water and whilst queuing every day, children are often robbed and/or beaten by thieves. 443 million school days are lost due to illness.
CityTaps have developed an innovative solution to address the problem. They have created the first prepaid water service, CTSuite, a software and pay by phone solution that relies on a smart and prepaid water meter. The system has been developed alongside the Société d’Exploitation des Eaux du Niger, SEEN, a Veolia Africa subsidiary, implemented with the help of Orange Niger, and funded partially by the GSMA through the Mobile for Development Utilities Innovation Fund.
Customers can pay money with any phone, at any time, and for any amount on their water account using Mobile Money in just a few minutes. When the account is charged, water becomes automatically available until the money runs out. The Smart Prepaid Water Meter, CTMeter, measures and sends water usage data in near real-time to the CTCloud software. The data is transmitted (typically every 30 minutes) using radio communication based on the LoRaWAN open protocol. The CTMeter also encompasses a built-in valve to open water access as soon as the customer’s account is positive. It is equipped with M20 battery solutions that offers 10 years of service in tough urban sites as the CTMeter is often installed outdoors and in direct sunlight in Sahel countries where ambient temperatures can reach extreme levels of up to 60°C.
The CTCloud software collects payments, gathers data from the CTMeters, and controls water access. It provides the water utility with live key hydraulic and commercial indicators and identifies thefts and leaks to reduce Non Revenue Water (NRW).
The benefits of the system are twofold:
A first pilot was run in Niamey, Niger. 1,325 taps have been installed, involving 2,650 homes (2 households on average share a water connection). In total, that’s 13,250 direct beneficiaries (since households comprise on average 5 family members, and 7,950 indirect beneficiaries as 3 people on average access piped water from equipped neighbors. 90% of equipped people have recognized substantial benefits with this system. Newly connected subscribers saved up to 94% on the price per m3 of water consumed and they also saved an average of 86 mins every time they access water. The other subscribers enjoyed easier management of their budget and permanent access to running water. The access to running water has allowed some of them to create micro enterprises, which can benefit the whole community in the long term.
According to a report by the World Economic Forum, the water crisis is the #4 global risk in terms of impact to society. By powering CityTaps, we have a chance to be part of a solution that has the potential to bring safe water and sanitation to millions of people in need.
We are proud to contribute to this meaningful project.
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