Rustenburg has officially launched a pioneering water-saving initiative that will result in long term gains for the municipality. Partnering with EOH Smart Government, through its IMQS and GLS divisions the city of Rustenburg has digitised its water and sanitation network and created a water master plan that will assist to reduce wastage, simplify maintenance and ultimately enhance revenue.
According to Masheke Mukwamataba, Chief Innovation Officer at IMQS, Digital Information Management, enabled by systems such as the one Rustenberg has implemented, is an essential component of building smart, resilient cities that can intelligently approach the challenges faced by rapid urbanisation and environmental change. The right information in the right hands at the right time informs decisions, improves awareness and ensures the effective use of resources.
The North West of South Africa is prone to variable rainfall and therefore highly vulnerable to drought. A rapid rise in population amid huge mining operations has placed pressure on water resources and infrastructure. Water, sanitation and water demand are therefore critical areas of management for Rustenburg Municipality. The municipality was one of the hardest hit by the drought last year, making it imperative for Rustenburg to improve to respond with speed. According to the Acting Municipal Manager of Rustenburg Local Municipality, Gordon Molokwane, this was no mean feat.
“Initially, our efforts were focused around improving the knowledge of their network. There was a complete lack of electronic data, and all relevant information was either archived across departments or non-existent. The inability to consolidate data made it nearly impossible to make timely and informed decisions. Technology becomes the driver of change in such an environment and will change the manner Rustenburg will operate into the future. A true digital transformation if you will.” says Mukwamataba.
“We realised we needed an expert in modernising infrastructure systems to assist us, and elected to partner with EOH Smart Government on the basis of their advanced solutions and extensive use cases. The solution truly is an engineering solution created for engineers, and has revolutionised our water management strategy by allowing us to manage our infrastructure digitally in real time,” adds Molokwane.
In addition to creating the water master plan, EOH fully digitised the water network, allowing the municipality to improve operations and maintenance. The system not only allows for data about infrastructure to be accessed and integrated in real time, it allows for a holistic view that is graphically represented in the IMQS integrated asset management, GIS based system.
The entire water system was mapped, indicating the placement of every pipe and connection, making it easy for real-time performance and fault monitoring. As a result, the municipality has been able to reduce water leaks by easily identifying areas to prioritise and resolving them more efficiently, and has decreased the number of illegal connections and faulty meters.
Mukwamataba explains that the partnership with the Rustenburg municipality has resulted in a complete solution that is now being used by its water department as a strategic decision-making tool. “The IMQS system allows for the prioritisation of services by specific areas, which has made it easier for the municipality to meet demand. By virtue of being able to proactively monitor infustructure health indexes, the amount of water consumed – and lost through leaks etc. – has been positively impacted. The support by the Mayor and City Council has empowered the technicians and specialists to turn Rustenburg’s water infrastructure into a high performing system that has improved its provision of services to residents as well as the municipality’s revenue.”
In addition to increased accountability and improved decision-making, the new system has allowed for more effective resource utilisation, proactive maintenance, and enhanced resilience to crises. One of the project’s greatest achievements has been the continuous reduction of overtime from R1,5 million in 2015 to R328,000 in 2016.
Molokwane says that Rustenburg’s administration immediately saw the benefits of a smart water solution, and that the City Council resolution taken late last year to make it a strategic priority has had a positive impact throughout the municipality. “We have seen improvements in services, improvements in water usage and wastage, and improvements in revenue. While the drought has been a national crisis, Rustenburg has been able to turn it into an opportunity to become more efficient and mitigate the effects on citizens. Today, we have provided 60 handheld devices to our operations teams who are out in the field every day in order to further improve the provision of water services, as we continue to make our city smarter.”
Mukwamataba points out that Rustenburg is a great example of the benefits a smart city offers. “Making decisions and managing infrastructure without the right information at hand is difficult, especially with limited funds. Technology not only assists in prioritising services, but creates efficiencies that benefit everyone – citizens and the municipality alike. Rustenburg’s new water solution has improved the lives of residents and made the job of the water department easier and more effective.”
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