Water conservation made easy: This app lets you monitor water usage from your smartphone

NetWater lets you monitor hourly water usage and gives a breakup of how much water is being used in each room.
Water conservation made easy: This app lets you monitor water usage from your smartphone
Water conservation made easy: This app lets you monitor water usage from your smartphone

India has been seeing deficit monsoons for three years now. After two years of drought, normal monsoons were expected in 2016. However, last year also ended with a 3% deficit. 

South India is currently experiencing severe drought. Reports suggest that Tamil Nadu is the worst hit with water levels in reservoirs being 80% less than normal. What’s making things worse is the fact that private weather forecaster Skymet has said that weather conditions have taken a U-turn since mid-January and point to the resurfacing of El Niño. 

Why this is a matter of concern is that some of the worst droughts in India have been triggered by El Niño. This includes the 2002, 2009, 2014 and 2015 droughts.

At a time like this, water conservation is becoming more important than ever before. A huge amount of water is wasted in urban households. Be it while washing dishes, leaving the tap running, we end up wasting a lot of water without realising it. 

Recognising this issue, Hyderabad-based Manohar Bandarum decided to do something that would make households aware of how much water they consume each day. “Today there is no proper way of measuring our daily water usage. And if you aren’t aware of how much you are using, you cannot conserve. With most buildings having a common water bill, there is a large amount of water misuse and lack of accountability. I wanted to do something to fix that,” says Bandarum who went on to set up Sensworx, a company that makes smart water meters called NetWater.

NetWater is a wireless meter that monitors water consumption and uses the IoT technology to send real-time data to the cloud. This data can be accessed from a smartphone. A City NetWater meant for households shows the user his/her hourly water usage in the house, a breakup of how much water is being used in which room. Additionally, it also helps detect leaks.

This can help every household regulate water consumption and save up to 30-40% of their water bill. 

For a two-bedroom flat, which typically has three water inlets, a City NetWater meter has to be installed at every inlet. NetWater gives every household real-time notifications from water authorities, lets you raise requests from the app and even pay your water bill. 

Bandarum spent nearly nine months on research to build a prototype. He was incubated under T-Hub and is currently based out of the T-Hub office. After building the prototype, he first installed it in his own house and a few friends’ houses. It was also installed in a residential building. Bandarum tested his prototype in his house and these other houses, checked for errors and stabilized the product. 

Commercial operations began in mid-2016. So far Sensworx has installed a few 100 meters in Hyderabad and in the next two to three weeks, the company will enter Bengaluru as well. 

Most recently, Sensworx has also built another product to be used by public water boards and smart cities called Community NetWater. A smart city or a water board can install the smart meter in households instead of the current meters. This lets the water board monitor water in the entire city on one platform. It gives the board an area-wise live dashboard view of consumption patterns to help manage water better.

Sensworx is currently in talks with the Hyderabad and Orissa water boards to install their smart meters. In fact, Sensworx is also in advanced talks with South Africa and will be rolling out its first smart city deployment in South Africa from next month.

A City NetWater meter about Rs 5,500 to Rs 6,000 while the Community NetWater meter - meant for water boards - costs Rs 7,000. Revenue is generated by Sensworx purely by sale of NetWater meters.

An investment of nearly a crore rupees has gone in so far which was partly self-funded and partly raised as a seed fund from a friend. 

The next step for Sensworx is to strike partnerships with large vendors and corporates to take its product to a global level. The company has been selected by GE-USA for a potential partnership for smart metering solutions. Bandarum says that if a partnership with GE-USA is successful, it will give NetWater significant global exposure. In fact, Sensworx is also in initial talks with Honeywell, which is looking at the idea of integrating water management onto its IoT platform. 

With the importance of water conservation increasing each day, Sensworx hopes to establish its services in Bengaluru next and then expand to Pune in the next four months. With a sound expansion plan in place, the 11-member team hopes to break even by the end of 2017.

This article has been produced with inputs from T Hub as a part of a partner program.

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