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Dunedin City Council uses Spark IoT network for new water measuring system

By Jessie Chiang
Fri 22 Jul 2022

Dunedin City Council (DCC) has implemented a new, smart water metering solution for non-residential premises that it says will help to deliver the objectives of the Three Waters policy using Spark's IoT network.

The council says the new digital-led solution aims to improve the efficiency of the city water network by managing and monitoring water usage more effectively, saving on meter reading costs, and reducing billing queries and inaccuracies in the billing data for commercial residents.

The new system is made possible by NB-IoT, a new kind of Spark New Zealand IoT network. Field smart technology company, AD Riley, is rolling out water meters connected to the Spark NB-IoT network and providing usage information to Dunedin City Council.

Dunedin City Councils Group Manager Three Waters David Ward says, while the meters should also save money on the city's ratepayer bill, which can be funnelled into other programmes of work, this rollout is ultimately about achieving the environmental benefits, water savings, and the vision of Dunedin being one of the world's great small cities.

"The DCC water system includes 21,000 hectares of water catchment, six operational water treatment plants, 57 storage reservoirs, 35 pumping stations and 1450km of pipes," he says.

"Our Three Waters team previously managed water demand for the city by volumetrically charging non-domestic customers across 4,200 water meters. The processes, technology and systems were dated, with over 60% of the water meter network nearing end of life and registering less flow which would result in non-streamlined processes between the meter reader, system input, and invoicing."

Ward says this new system, which is connected to the Spark NB-IoT network, flips the region into a world where instead of resources being chewed up by routine inaccuracies, the council can now focus on efficiency gains.

"With the new smart metering solution, we now have accurate real-time data across all non-residential properties which provides a detailed overview of their water use by the minute. This allows us to facilitate metering changes more swiftly and bill more accurately," he says.

"Faults and leaks are more easily identified and fixed, leading to cost and water savings across the board, and property owners are empowered to manage their water consumption via a service portal solution that visually displays their water usage."

The forecasted net benefits per annum are approximately $800,000 per year after operating costs.

The University of Otago and Port Otago are also using the new smart meters. The university has 200 water meters, the highest number of meters in Dunedin, and Port Otago is the largest user of water in Dunedin and has six meters. One of the Port meters has been collecting data since April 2021 and has already flagged three leaks.

Spark IoT lead Tony Agar says the new Dunedin City Council smart water metering solution will create a good base for Dunedin's smart city teams to build from.

"Dunedin is a fantastic city, with a strong network of accessible and connected communities and DCC have seen the opportunity to significantly improve efficiency and sustainability by transitioning to a smart water meter network," he says.

"We're bringing together IoT networks, and in partnership with AD Riley, smart water metering technology to ensure more of our precious resource water, is being used efficiently. It also allows the council to create a more sustainable operation, to live up to their sustainability strategy and realise cost savings for their commercial property ratepayers."

Agar says Spark's new NB-IoT network was the perfect connectivity fit for Dunedin City Council because it provides comprehensive, reliable coverage and is suited to non-powered metering systems that send small amounts of data. 

"On top of this, we've already activated NB-IoT connectivity across nearly 60% of Sparks cell sites, providing over 80% population coverage which gives Dunedin City Council extensive coverage in the Southland area," he says.

"Across our new NB-IoT network, DCC will be able to better monitor their water use efficiency, optimise billing accuracy, promote more efficient consumption and deliver maximum value to ratepayers."

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