Watercare picks Spark to enable digital water meter solution

Spark New Zealand

New Zealand’s largest water services provider, Watercare has started rolling out smart loggers on water meters for commercial premises in Auckland to better manage water usage across the city, save on manual reads and improve billing accuracy for commercial premises.

It’s 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. Currently, 3300 water meters have been logged and connected on the Spark NB-IoT network to provide usage information to Watercare, with an additional 2500 meters to be logged.

Spark New Zealand Logo

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.

Watercare picks Spark

“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 6000 litres a 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 46 litres 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.

Nish adds, “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.”

Spark’s Principal Innovation Business Development Manager Matt McLay says 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% population coverage.”

Research analysis commissioned by Spark IoT and undertaken by NERA Economic Consulting show that water metering solutions can provide a potential net benefit of NZ$28 million in market across a 10-year period up to 2027 from efficiencies and cost savings.