Integrating Supply Systems

BWSSB takes technological initiatives for delivering water services

The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) is responsible for providing water supply and sewerage collection and disposal services to about 800 square km of Bengaluru city and its surrounding areas. At present, BWSSB supplies more than 1,400 million litres per day to the residents of these areas.

It has been a frontrunner in introducing a wide range of IT initiatives like geospatial mapping, metering and extending useful information through web-based applications. This has assisted BWSSB in improving operational efficiency, increasing customer convenience,  improving service delivery and simplifying citizen-government interaction.

BWSSB sources water from the Kaveri and Arkavathi rivers, conveys it over a distance of about 100 km, and pumps it to a height of about 500 metres. This task is further complicated by the exponential increase in water demand due to high population growth and rising urbanisation and industrialisation. As per estimates, Bengaluru city had a population of 5.4 million in 2000, which escalated to over 10 million in 2014. As a result, the water board started deploying advanced technologies to ensure the proper management of limited water resources, and to augment its efforts for providing a regular water supply of high quality.

At present, BWSSB provides a host of useful information and functions through its website, including the registering and tracking of complaints, applications for new connections and bill payment. It also operates a round-the-clock helpline to ensure the timely resolution of customer grievances. In February 2014, the board had taken up real-time bulk flow meter monitoring in association with IBM India with the aim of achieving equitable water distribution and managing and monitoring distribution. The system, which uses big data and analytics technology, is based on IBM’s Intelligent Operations Centre and Integrate Information Core platforms.

As part of the project, IBM devised an operational dashboard that serves as a command centre for BWSSB to manage the city’s water supply network. It collects water flow data from 284 of the 784 bulk flow meters that are installed in the city and presents it to users in a geospatial map, making it end-user friendly. It uses the geographic information system (GIS) to provide up-to-date information on parameters like the amount of water transmitted, water supplied to individual parts of the distribution system, latest flow rates, total flow in 24 hours, and the average total flow over the past seven days, among others. This assists utility officials in ascertaining supply frequency and the duration of each valve area. The platform also allows engineers to set thresholds for each section of the network and manage them in a predictable manner, alerting them when the thresholds are crossed. Engineers are provided with a portal to create, modify and use water equations; this has been designed to quantify water supply to the central division. Notably, the entire set-up has established a strong information sharing and coordination system between executive officers and servicemen. For instance, engineers can monitor water supply activities on a real-time basis and direct the concerned servicemen to carry out repairs as and when leakages are reported.

BWSSB is also implementing a mobile-based system to monitor the opening and closing of valves. Under this, a smartphone with an Android application is placed on the valve key while the valve is being opened. The application employs a global positioning system and records the number of times the key is rotated to open and close the valve. The information received in this manner is then fed into the water information system on a real-time basis. This will be bolstered by the proposed installation of automatic valves and meters in the city on a pilot basis, under which the board will divide its water supply areas into parts and install automated valves in each area. These valves will turn on and off at fixed times. BWSSB will also fix the quantum of water to be let out in each area based on its usage history. This will be achieved by deploying inbuilt sensors under the valve areas. The automated meters installed at households will convey meter readings to BWSSB’s common server, where the exact quantity of water used by every household will be displayed on a real-time basis. To begin with, this system will be introduced in Jayanagar, Malleswaram and Gandhinagar before being extended to other areas. BWSSB is currently preparing a detailed project report for its implementation.

In tandem with these efforts to improve distributional efficiency, BWSSB has also taken measures to improve billing and revenue collection systems. It has computerised bill generation, accounting, revenue monitoring, etc. in all its subdivisions, where the systems are connected to the central computer section in BWSSB’s head office via a wide area network. The utility has also installed 74 kiosks with automated cash collection machines at important locations, operating on a 24×7 basis, to facilitate the remittance of water bills. These kiosks reportedly facilitate 85 per cent of bill payments, which can also be made through other services and portals like the electronic clearance service and Bangalore One. On the whole, these services have rendered the entire billing and collection process more efficient, significantly reducing the time required for each transaction.

In March 2015, the water board commenced a study for integrating the revenue register (RR) numbers of water connections with property identity (PID) numbers in Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s GIS. The project has been launched on a pilot basis in Malleswaram. Of the 26,000 consumers in the area, BWSSB has integrated 23,500 RR numbers with PID numbers. This data integration will assist the water board in identifying unauthorised connections and eliminating redundancies in data collection and management. The details of domestic and non-domestic consumers, sanitary connections, etc. will be integrated with GIS, after which the monitoring of connections will commence.

Finally, as part of its efforts to improve information dissemination among consumers, BWSSB has tied up with NextDrop Smart Water System Private Limited to provide SMS alerts on water supply timings to all consumers that have availed of water connections from the board. In addition to providing alerts, the system also facilitates the resolution of grievances. As of January 2015, the service has covered about 40 per cent of consumers served by BWSSB, and plans are in place to extend it to the remaining 60 per cent shortly. BWSSB is also developing a cloud-based website that will provide consumers with access to information about water supply timings and water consumption by providing their property details.

Conclusion

BWSSB’s initiatives have garnered significant support from all stakeholders, including the public and the industry. It received the National Urban Water Award, 2009 for efficient cost-recovery through effective billing and collection practices. These were facilitated by the introduction of citizen-friendly services like spot billing, 24×7 payment facilities through kiosks, the execution of nearly 100 per cent metering, and the deployment of various GIS-based applications.

The water utility is now focusing on using real-time data on water supply – per connection, per day – as a first step towards equitable water distribution. This is expected to improve its water supply services and revenue collections by curbing non-revenue water.

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