An estimated 663 million people lack access to clean and safe drinking water in the world today. Innovations such as smart metering and mobile money pay-as-you-go (PAYG) services are being tested to enhance access to water and other basic utilities. Scaling up such solutions will contribute to the realization of UN Sustainable Goal 6 that aims to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by the year 2030.
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“By collecting 100 per cent of water revenue, we can help local communities keep their water resources maintained forever. Eseye, its global IOT network, and the AWS Cloud ensures that eWATER always sends and receives data when we need it, and at a cost-effective price.”
- Rob Hygate, COO, eWATER
eWATER, a London-based startup organization, needed help to implement a solution for delivering clean water to impoverished communities in developing nations. It turned to Eseye, an Advanced Technology Partner in the AWS Partner Network, for an IoT-based solution running in the AWS Cloud that includes a simple payment system for tap water and continuous monitoring of water systems in rural villages, which gives residents easy, affordable access to clean water.
eWATER is a London-based startup with a mission to provide an affordable, sustainable solution that helps the world’s poorest populations access clean water supplies using simple hardware devices at water taps, the power of IoT and cloud-based monitoring, and a low-cost way for people to pay for the water they use at the source.
The Challenge: Providing Access to Clean Water
eWATER set out to solve a major challenge that vexes the health and economic well-being of people in developing nations: accessing clean water.
It’s estimated that more than 780 million people across the globe do not have access to clean water, with some 2,300 people dying each day from illnesses contracted by drinking from dirty, disease-ridden water supplies. While government agencies and individuals have provided large sums of money for water systems, there is often little or no money devoted to local, ongoing maintenance of water-delivery infrastructures. So the systems break down, and people go back to obtaining water from contaminated sources.
eWATER’s founders saw a solution in the wide use of cell phones, which are now omnipresent in even the poorest countries. They reasoned that if people were willing to pay small sums for cellular service, they would also be willing to pay small amounts for clean water at the tap, provided that the money collected would go towards reliable maintenance of the water systems.
Their solution involved several technology components, including small, tamper-proof devices installed at water pumps to control access to and collect usage information at each tap, and a data-delivery system that could send information from each pump to a central location for monitoring and to alert technicians when a tap is not working. To make this work, eWATER also needed secure, reliable machine-to-machine (M2M) connectivity that could send and store data in the cloud. Additionally, eWATER also wanted a scalable, cost-effective way to increase data processing power and data storage to scale its solution across many countries.
Turning to AWS and Eseye for an IoT Solution
eWATER, which is an Amazon Web Services customer, turned to Eseye, an AWS Partner Network (APN) Advanced Technology Partner, to help implement the solution. Initial projects were launched in Gambia and Tanzania.
The solution starts with solar-powered, IoT-enabled pumps that work with filtration systems, water storage tanks, and village water distribution systems, all of which are installed and maintained by local residents who receive training to be eWATER engineers. Eseye AnyNet Secure SIM smart cards in the pumps can access up to 440 global cellular networks, ensuring that the SIMs have highly available cell connectivity for sending data about each pump’s daily usage and condition to the AWS Cloud.
Local residents access water at village taps using NFC (near-field communication) tags. First, the tags are pressed against cell phones running an eWATER app that is used to purchase water credits; if an individual does not have a cell phone, they can usually find a village merchant who does and who can provide access to the app. Credits for water use are wirelessly transferred to the NFC tag, which is then pressed against a water tap containing an eWATER device. This opens a valve that delivers the purchased amount of clean, fresh water.
As eWATER scales up the use of the eWATER system rapidly in Tanzania, Nigeria, Uganda, Gambia, Ghana and Senegal, it harnesses the skills of the many unemployed young women and men in sub- Saharan Africa by supporting them to set up eWATER franchises. To ensure the taps are working and maintained, the IoT devices at each tap connect over the cell networks to a cloud-based eWATERcare application, which receives information on functionality, flow rates, and sales in real time. In addition to daily usage, this helps quickly identify unusual behaviors or conditions. The franchisee will be responsible for ensuring full customer satisfaction with the eWATER service and ensure the operation and maintenance is carried out by local skilled technicians to meet set Service Level Agreement targets. This process has been approved by Water Ministries and donors across the globe because it reflects the economic and financial reality of how to deliver clean water to the rural and poor.
A Successful Pilot – and Large Potential Market
The initial projects by eWATER and Eseye using the IoT solution and AWS Cloud capabilities helped successfully deliver clean water on a 24/7 basis to about 13,000 people in the two African countries. The solution provides strong data security through the Eseye AnyNet Secure SIM technology, highly available wireless connections, scalable cloud storage and processing for pump-based data, and cost-effective pricing.
It also lets eWATER operate and scale the solution on a pay-as-you-go basis. The company forecasts that the solution may be accessible to as many as 10 million people over the next five years through the instillation of 100,000 more taps.
“All of the transaction data can be collated, which is crucial in the visibility of cash flow and ensures that payments can be made to repair the taps,” says Paul Marshall, co-founder of Eseye. “Our partnership with eWATER and the power and scalability of the AWS Cloud demonstrate how IoT, when harnessed to highly innovative projects, is a power for good. eWATER’s exceptional work impacts the most remote and disadvantaged communities. We are thrilled to see IoT changing lives and once again astonished at the power of the product.”
About the Partner
Eseye is an AWS Partner Network Advanced Technology Partner that specializes in simplifying global IoT device deployments with unique zero-touch, highly secure, remote device provisioning and the freedom to roam across a vast number of international Mobile Network Operator partnerships. The company’s managed, global cellular network reduces the cost and risk of IoT deployments while connecting the AWS Cloud to 2G, 3G, 4G LTE & CDMA devices with a single AnyNet Secure SIM in more than 145 countries.
Learn more about running IoT solutions on AWS.
“DFID already works with a number of cutting edge SMEs from across the UK. For example, through our partnership with the mobile industry association, the GSMA, we have provided seed funding to Africa Water Enterprises – a company based out of Staffordshire - to develop their business repairing and maintaining water systems in Gambia. They’ve introduced ingenious eWATERpay technology which introduces a contactless, prepaid ‘tag’ at the water tap. To date the technology has reached 20,000 people."
IoT Global Network is the ultimate intelligence platform for the global machine-to-machine communication value chain. The platform serves as an invaluable source of information for decision makers who deal with IoT in all areas of industry and public services, including consumer-related, energy, financial, industrial, healthcare, security and transportation. The website attracts 20,000 unique monthly users.
A PDF of the coverage is attached and a link to the piece can be found here.
IoT Now has 29,800 unique monthly users and provides information and reviews for those taking the first steps in next generation machine-to-machine services. IoT Now covers all industries using machine-to-machine communications (fixed line & wireless) for business-to-business users. A PDF of the coverage is attached and a link to the piece can be found here.