On October 23rd, 2014, we updated our
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A proposition for Nairobi WaterHow meter readers using IDEOS smartphones can improve meterreading performance and customer management .This can increase revenue and reduces losses, help to controlleakage and strengthen the company’s human resources.
An overview• This proposal looks at how, by giving meter readers smartphones, Nairobi Water could strengthen its financial position and customer management.• This is based on experience in other countries in Africa and on software being developed by SeeSaw.• A range of functions are possible, from basic SMS up to sophisticated performance tracking of individual meter reading staff.• The beauty of a software as a service (SaaS) approach is that these functions can be introduced and updated over time, allowing staff and systems time to adapt and making sure that real improvements are made ‘on the ground’.
First, a comparison ofDataloggersSmartphones vs
A 1990s technologyCosts a lot & require lots of training. Units arehard to replace & software cannot be updated
Smartphones running on Android
A 2012 technology Cheap & staff already use at home. Boughtfrom Safaricom. Software can be improved over time & updated remotely
In summary DataloggersSmartphones vsCost a lot, do one thing Are cheap and versatile, well. Are not intuitive do many things. Kids can use them
DataloggervsSmartphoneDesired functions Data logger SmartphoneDigital meter readings Yes YesGPS Usually YesReal-time communication Not often Yeswith databaseCan send SMS No YesFamiliar to meter readers Not always YesCheap No YesCan be replaced locally Not usually YesCan take photos No YesVersatile, offer other No YesfunctionsCan make phone calls No Yes
One Datalogger Ten Smartphones vs And as Safaricom sell you the phone, you don’t need to order spares, replacements or repairs from Germany, the UK or elsewhere
Management potentialWhereas data loggers usually plug directly into the IT system of a utility, bypassing management ...... mobile-to-web systems can ALSOoffermanagers a simple dashboard to oversee performance.
Traditional System Person / manager IT system, accounting staff
Disadvantages- manager relies on IT staff for info- there is no ‘real-time’ information- it is hard to cross-check the reportsfrom IT against field data from the meterreaders- the information is neither user-friendly,nor there “when you want it”
Web dashboard Person / manager IT system, accounting staff
Management benefits from :- real time information, so no lag-time onseeing performance- no-one else ‘filtering’ the information- more accountability in system- the ability to easily cross-check reports against data from the field- user-friendly system; no IT skills needed
Functionality offered by SeeSaw• Basic function – It may be a good idea to start here while meter readers get used to the system and it is piloted – Other functions can be added later, easy from an IT standpoint• Second tier functions – These use attributes that smartphones have (and many data loggers do not). The functions could be easily and quickly incorporated. They would require some change to meter reading ‘habits’ These require more• Intermediate functionality elaborate changes to• Advanced functionality meter reader routines and more links into the• Future possibilities existing software and systems of the utility
Basic Function Meter reader enters ID, Either, IT IS STORED ON PHONE & meter number & meter DOWNLOADED LATER reading & Or,ID: IT IS SUBMITTED BY SMS OR 3G345 NETWORK (ANDROID APP)Meter: TO HEADQUARTERS1234567 (depending on whether real timeReading: information is needed, the network4500 coverage, cost of data and the HR system in place)
Basic FunctionCan either use android smartphone or simple SMS (on any phone)
Basic FunctionThe advantage of basic functionality, to beginwith, is that it does not require large changemanagement within the organisation or to meterreader habits.Once the ‘system’ has beenabsorbed and accepted by thestaff, it is easier to add otherfunctions, using the samephone and same underlyingsoftware.
Second Tier FunctionsMeter reader takes GPS Meter reader takes a co-ordinates photo of the meter & its location
Second Tier Functions Meter reader can E.g. The meter doessubmit information not work, relating to a faulty there is no meter, meter, a leak or a an illegal connectionrange of abnormal is suspected, there is a serious leak situations
Web Dashboard- Any manager can login to the web-based platformthat collects the data and see, real-time, what thesituation is.- The system can import data (e.g. from billing orcustomer management systems) which allows easydata cleaning- Patterns and trends are easily seen- The system can export data, so it can be used in othersystems and software packages (i.e. no need tooverhaul the IT system)
Management information- specific incidents can be mapped geographically - action can easily be assigned to different staff
Management information- web platform provides an overview of meter readings, customer information, etc
Other functionality offered by SeeSawThere are a range of other possible functions,which would require more integration into theexisting IT systems of Nairobi Water, but whichcould still be delivered fairly easily.– Intermediate functionality– Advanced functionality– Future possibilities
Intermediate Function (1)The meter readercan check the E.g. By using an application on the phone to check thecustomer customer database - theinformation in the meter reader discovers thatdatabase to see if it the meter is registered to the old owner of the house.is up to date andcorrect The meter reader can, directly, capture the details of the newThis allows rapid owner and transmit these toand easier Nairobi Water.data cleaning
Intermediate Function (2)The meter reader E.g. As the meter readercan check the real- enters a meter reading for a given meter – a warningtime billing data to comes up on his or her phonesee how much the that this customer owes morecustomer owes than 50 000 KSH and has not paid their bill for 6 months.This allows direct The meter reader can,action and directly, take action – such as disconnection, final paymentreminders notification by SMS or other.
Advanced Function (1)• As the meter reader enters the data, it compares this against historical information for that meter (as well as comparable houses nearby)• It can then provide a warning if consumption indicated is outside reasonable bounds• The system asks the meter reader “are you sure?” and forces them to double- check their reading
Advanced Function (2)A photo is taken of the meter being read, whichallows two things: – a visual, date-stamped record of the meter reading at a particular time, helping to resolve queries, errors. – via photo-recognition software, a cross-referencing of the meter reading being entered and error warning messages. Although not all meters will be able to be ‘checked’ in this way, this should improve over time and tracking the performance of individual meter readers in this regard could be considered one performance indicator.
A medium-term option: Staff management tool• It will be possible to use certain metrics recorded on the phone to track the performance of individual meter reading staff – Over time this will allow Nairobi Water to better manage its meter reading staff • Identifying those that need ‘further training’ • Benchmarking good performers versus poor performers • Providing a baseline for disciplinary action against staff engaged in undesirable activities SeeSaw is currently working on developing a benchmarking system that could be rolled out later, using information already collected by the system
Other possibilities• New customers can submit a request for a new connection by talking to meter reading staff, who open an application on their phone. This captures customer information, M-Pesa or other details and GPS co-ordinates of the house
Other possibilities• A management dashboard that allows managers to visualise meters with particularly high or low usage – (both on a list and on a map, allowing comparison these to neighbouring houses)• The system can show consumption of nearest five houses (in the same tariff band), alerting the meter reader if consumption is conspicuously high or low
Other possibilities• Water usage trends in a neighbourhood can be visualised over time and can be compared to other neighbourhoods• Bill collection trends can also be visualised over time – distinguishing between areas that are particularly good or poor.• Management can see easily where improvements are being made or performance worsening.
Software-as-a-Service Packages Functions Basic Package Second Tier Intermediary AdvancedDigital meter reading + capture by aweb-based systemCapture of additional data:GPS co-ordinates / photo storageApplications to report leakage,damage, suspicious activitySystem can check customer andbilling databases in real-time.Allows for data cleaning, greatertransparency / fewer errors,remedial interaction withdefaulters.Tools to check meter readings arereasonable, appropriate and ‘on-trend’ bringing greateraccountability and responsiveness.Managerial tools for trend analysisand for ‘performance management’of meter-reading staff
Pricing offered by SeeSaw• Pricing is generally per connectionon the system.• Different price packages areavailable depending on the level offunctionality desired.• Large volumes (> 10 000 connections)attract discounts.
The SeeSaw philosophy• The technology is not the ‘hard part’ – it is integrating it into the existing systems & habits of the utility, its staff and customers• Change management will be important – SeeSaw can help advise on this (with learning from elsewhere)• Starting with basic functionality and adding over time is recommended, something that the SeeSaw’s“Software as a Service” (SaaS) approach permits• The philosophy is essentially the opposite of “drop-and-go” software and IT procurement• SeeSaw remains a partner over time – via monthly contracts. Only if Nairobi Water are happy does SeeSaw get paid.• Smartphoneshave three core advantages: people use them at home, they are cheap and they are versatile
In conclusion ...SeeSaw is offering a moderntechnology for a moderncompany- This would complement theother mobile phone innovationsthe company has introduced