The Next Step in Sustainability

Keeping clean water flowing is critical to our mission, so we developed a comprehensive remote monitoring tool using cutting-edge IoT (Internet of Things) sensors and cloud computing technology to equip local leaders with real-time data on water system performance.

2.9 billion people live in rural areas and rely on small water systems.

 

Historically, the only way for governments and NGOs to monitor rural water systems was to visit them. But reaching these locations takes time, human resources, and money. Given this reality, site visits occur only once or twice a year, meaning broken water systems can stay broken for months. If the system isn’t working, people immediately go back to drinking dirty water.

We decided that we could do better.


Our Solution

We realized we needed to monitor our wells from afar. But no tool existed. So we made one.

Our handpump sensor lasts 10 years without a battery change, installs in 10 minutes, is fully tamper-proof and vandal resistant, and uses the Amazon Web Services cloud computing platform to analyze readings in real time. The sensor’s roaming agreement automatically covers over 200 countries.

Deployment began in 2015. Today, thousands of these sensors are collecting data on our water projects. The sensors measure liters pumped per hour and can immediately identify any fluctuation in productivity. And if we observe a decrease in water flow—or a flow that stops altogether—a technician can be deployed to help make repairs.

 

Current Status

0

Functional Sites

0

Not Functional Sites

Breakdowns

New
0
Extended
0
Prolonged
0

5

7

6

24

5

7

6

11

0-3
days

4-7
days

7-14
days

15-30
days

2
mos

3
mos

4-6
mos

6-12
mos

Permanent Non-functional

12+ months

113

Restored
8
  • New (2)
  • Extended (4)
  • Prolonged (2)

Actionable Insights

We use this real-time data to issue alerts and low bandwidth reports to mechanics in remote areas.

Analyses and summaries are shared with local governments and water bureaus to equip decision makers with valuable knowledge about water use in their communities and empower them to better manage local water services. We can offer this data at a nationwide scale at less than $1US/month for each water point.

Want to see what our data looks like?
Username: looker.public@charitywater.org
Password: 4mdezeo4
View dashboard


Gathering data wasn’t enough. To process it, we needed a reliable system status solution. So we built one.

Our sensors are now manufactured at scale, to industrial standards. Inside each one, a stack of six capacitance sensors measures the physical level of water in the wellhead twice every second, which is then converted to liters per hour that are flowing through the pump.

The sensors automatically geolocate, eliminating the need for additional training requirements or installation equipment. As data is gathered, it’s analyzed in the cloud using advanced IoT and analytics tools provided by Amazon Web Services, then customized insights are emailed directly to monitoring teams.

The cost: $150 per unit.

Product Roadmap

  • Generation 1 · AFRIDEV HANDPUMP SENSOR V-1

    Delivered August 2015

    Data provided

    • Liters per hour

    Highlights

    • 10 years of battery life
    • Data published to charity: water
    • Designs and code open sourced
    • 15% device failure over three years

    Challenges

    • Accuracy of data
    • Water tight seals
    • User experience in the field
    • Existing GSM network only covered ~80% of locations
    • High cost of data: $1.50 per unit per month
  • Generation 2 · TAPSTAND SENSOR V1

    Delivered March 2017

    Data provided

    • Liters per hour

    Highlights

    • New housing
    • New inline turbine sensing mechanism
    • Custom IoT platform built for device management

    Challenges

    • Shipping and importation
  • Generation 3 · AFRIDEV HANDPUMP SENSOR V-2 (Pictured)

    Delivered April 2019

    Data provided

    • Liters per hour
    • GPS
    • Temperature
    • Device performance

    Highlights

    • Enhanced algorithm (±2% accuracy)
    • Improved enclosure
    • Automatic geolocation
    • AWS cloud computing platform

    Challenges

    • Software integration
    • Cost of data: $1.50 per unit per month
    • Rapid evolution of cloud computing & IoT made original systems obsolete
    Download datasheet
  • Generation 4 · INDIA MARK II HANDPUMP SENSOR V-1

    Expected Fall 2020

    Data provided

    • Liters per hour
    • GPS
    • Temperature
    • Device performance
    • Vibration

    Highlights

    • Accelerometer for predictive analytics
    • Diverse telecom options
    • Customer service
    • Improved UX
    • Access to new markets
    • Operating costs slashed
    • Device security for payments
    • More frequent transmission

    Challenges

    • Completely new mechanical design
    • Re-evaluating all the electrical components
    • Developing the predictive algorithm

This is Only the Beginning

We designed our sensor with simplicity and durability in mind. And it works. But we are always striving to make it better. With every iteration of the design, our capabilities improve exponentially. Our monitoring grows more robust. Water flows more consistently.

Our technology partners

 

Ever-Expanding Impact

We’re committed to creating work that benefits as many people as possible around the world. You can find our open-source sensor designs and code on Github.

Have thoughts or feedback you want to share? We'd love to hear from you: sensors@charitywater.org