PUB Takes First Steps Towards Installing Smart Water Meters

PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency, is rolling out the first phase of Smart Water Meter Programme in Singapore. This will see the installation of 300,000 smart water meters in new and existing residential, commercial and industrial premises by 2023. To kick-start the rollout, PUB has called for a tender to appoint an Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) Specialist to evaluate and advise on meter devices and technology, communications protocol and provide insights for enhancing operational efficiency and water savings. 

Towards operational excellence and public empowerment
There are some 1.6 million water meters at domestic and non-domestic premises across the island today.  Water meters are read manually once every two months. Customers are billed every month, with their water consumption estimated every alternate month. 

With smart water meters, water consumption will be read automatically several times a day, and transmitted accurately and remotely back to PUB on a daily basis. This will improve resource efficiency and augment PUB’s capabilities in early leak detection within the water supply network and in customers’ premises.

Through a mobile application or online portal, every customer will have ready access to their daily water usage data. They will also receive high usage notifications and leak alerts promptly in future. With these alerts, they can fix the leak quickly to reduce water loss and save money.  This helps to empower customers to be more water-efficient and manage their usage.

The large-scale deployment of smart water meters is part of PUB’s major move towards a smart utility of the future in support of Singapore’s Smart Nation effort.  By leveraging digital technologies, PUB aims to encourage behavioural change towards water conservation, optimise water demand management, and achieve greater operational efficiencies. PUB is also exploring opportunities with other agencies on using these readily available data to improve public services. 

“Our challenge in PUB is to give our customers the water equivalent of the speedometer and fuel gauge, and so empower them to become smarter users of water. The digital smart water meter is just such a thing. Enabled by information on tap—something previously unavailable to end-consumers—we are convinced that they will be able to meaningfully adjust behaviour and become more efficient consumers, saving water and money in the process”, said Mr Ng Joo Hee, Chief Executive, PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency. 

Proven technology that enables water saving
PUB conducted two pilot trials in Punggol and Yuhua in 2016 and 2018 respectively which had yielded successful results. A total of 800 households reported an average of five per cent in water savings with early leak detection and adoption of water saving habits. Residents who participated in the trials found the daily usage trend in the app the most practical feature to chart water usage and make water savings adjustments accordingly.

The positive effects of greater awareness of water consumption on consumers’ behaviour is reinforced in a separate study conducted by the Institute of Water Policy in 2016 on 1,000 households in the Ang Mo Kio area1. The study found that simple messaging on water conservation and normative feedback on how much water they were consuming relative to their neighbours were effective means to influence change in behaviour. Based on its field experiment, direct messaging to consumers resulted in an average reduction of 4.9 litres of water per capita per day, which is close to half of the water saving target to lower per capita usage from 141 litres to the target 130 litres by 2030. 

Beyond Singapore, AMI has been implemented in several cities including London, Paris and Barcelona, that allows users to reap benefits in terms of improved customer experience and increased water savings.

Roll-out Plan
PUB’s subsequent step will be to call the tender for the installation of around 300,000 smart water meters in 1Q 2020, and the first smart water meters will be installed by early 2021. PUB will review the first phase rollout, build up its capabilities and expertise, and take into account advances in technology before implementing AMI for the rest of Singapore.