Following the pressure and need to effectively manage the ever scare water and energy resources, Apex Innovation – a South African company recently embarked on an Internet of Things (IoT) initiative primed to accurately measure usage of utility services in Cape Town.
Motivated with the fact that while people enjoy the benefits of water, electricity, and gas, the question is how they can use them efficiently in order to preserve these resources for future generations.
In an effort to leverage the power of IoT to accurately measure usage of utilities, collect and process data Apex Innovation makes its data comprehensible and actionable for municipalities, utility companies, property managers, engineers and consumers among others.
The road to transform connected utilities prompted Apex Innovation to partner with established utility platform providers for data acquisition protocols and combining these with our expertise in metering, data acquisition, processing and presentation.
The Apex platform, built using AWS technology is offering users high resolution of data visibility, using low power consumption IoT devices.
One example is their netQ smart utility management system with their DROP consumption engagement app deployed in residential, commercial, and industrial properties in South Africa. It enables users to get a visual report of their consumption at any given time, to their desktop or mobile application and thus contributes towards water and energy conservation overall consumption through awareness tools that drive behavioural change.
With the recent drought in Cape Town, there has been increased interest monitoring one’s water consumption more closely, which lead to the development of the DROP consumer engagement app.
“For the most part, we learned that the average person does not want to be bothered by over complicated usage reports, they want to lower their consumption but often do not know where to start, or how to gauge their conservation efforts, that’s where DROP comes in.” Says Brynn Williams Managing Director of Apex Innovation.
DROP gives the consumer an hourly updated water usage indication and alerts the user to usage over the allowable (self-set) daily limit and/or any potential leaks detected which saves water and cost. It also allows the consumer to understand their consumption through usage profiling that identifies activities or machines/systems that result in high consumption, all presented in an easy to understand way.
The platform is based purely on AWS infrastructure utilizing the latest technologies offered. The platform leverages serverless infrastructure to enable Apex Innovation to concentrate on customer-centric development and operations rather than on infrastructure needs. One major advantage is the ability to up-scale and down-scale dynamically ensuring High Availability to Platform.
The above is just one example of how IoT technology is used together with AWS to better utilize resources. Apex Innovation offers a variety of intelligent measurement data solutions for residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural applications.
Through profiling Apex is able to analyze patterns and trends that give it indications of potential problems in networks. Non-revenue water for example, remains a challenge for almost all water utilities and there are many consulting firms solely dedicated to reducing non-revenue water but they generally use historical data for their models.
Traditional metering platforms using proprietary protocols often require intensive capital investment to change out the existing metering and system infrastructure to make them compatible. So far, Apex Innovation has integrated multiple data acquisition protocols including IOT to allow our clients to bring their existing metering infrastructure online with minimum effort and cost thereby driving the conversion of manual systems to automated online systems that continue to provide our clients with value.
According to the Apex utility powerhouse, the accuracy on utility bills starts with the meter generating the metering data. Apex Innovation works with leading meter manufacturers to ensure best in class meters are supplied to our clients for new projects but more importantly, that we can integrate with existing metering infrastructure using open metering systems and communication technologies correctly and robustly.
“Our focus has been on ensuring data integrity from the source to presentation, using absolute meter register values to avoid discrepancies between the online platforms and the physical meter readings,” says Williams.
Apex notes Williams is working with multiple metering technologies, protocols, and platforms with many different types of people with varying views on value propositions and this all starts with the very fundamental requirement of metering data accuracy. However, to do this consistently and efficiently is one of the biggest challenges and is the reason that it remains our main focus.