Wow, I see my last blog post was on the 24th of July! Busy since then, both at work, and with my home IoT project.

Since July, South Africa got to crisis status of water dam levels. We got lots of warnings from municipalities to urgently reduce water, in November, the dams in Gauteng were at 27%, with predicted shutdown of the total water system at 25% dam levels, as result of mud and silt levels.

At the same time, I added more water sensors to my system at home, a 1 inch meter for the borehole, and ¾ inch to the municipality water, and relevant tracking of data on my IoT platform, with NodeRED, and MySQL, and adding to the front-ends for the family to view water usage. I do not know about your family, but there was a low level of interest, they did not think that it was possible to save water. I then added the capability on the front-end to reset the water use, before you take a bath, or before my wife runs a leg on the sprinkling system for the garden.

Screen 1: the day's water use, and a reset button to see an activities water consumption.

With the IoT reporting on the phones, I then, in casual conversations, started mentioning if they new that their shower this morning consumed 35 liters, and that I started making my shower time shorter, to 25 liters, and did they know that one washing load (7.2 kg LG washing machine), takes between 35 and 42 liters, and, that we have 6 loads on Mondays, 3 on Tuesdays, and 1 or more the rest of the week, and the total is .... Then, I created an iMessage group for the family, with the hashtag #WaterWarriors, and asked them to post their shower or bath liters, that ea. could track themselves on their phones, and compete with one another.

Previously, I only updated the screens with new liters used, as well as the IoT database, every 30min, but I realized, in today's immediacy world, they need to at least be updated on info every 30sec, the database, where I will analyse the water use, say per hour, needs much less updates. I made these changes, and then could immediately see a change in behavior to the family users.

One of the screens on the app is the one below, tracking the municipality, and geyser water use, the last 4 days, and the last 4 weeks. In week 42, 5661 liters (just off th screen), in week 46, That, my friends, is a 37.6% water reduction in 5 weeks !!

Screen 2: Day, and Week's water use.
During this time, with the measuring tools I added, I realized I can identify water leaks quickly. The first time, was an additional 10 Liters when I woke up compared to a reset at night, my wife inspected and found a dripping tap in the kitchen ! The other one was at night, we found 80 Liters in 3 hours, my wife found that the outside toilet had a leak on the seal dumping the water in the toilet. I then realized that I can easily add a 'water leakage detection algorithm', that looks for patterns of water use, in between the noise of proper water use. This has gone onto my todo list. Since I spoke to my friends about this, I realized this is a common problem, one friend had a massive leak in the garden of an old house, costing him a really big big number with the municipality,  and would have paid for a system like this one 100s of thousands of times over !
What have I learnt? IoT can save, and have an immediate impact. Savings, in a house, is driven by human nature, and behavior. People cannot connect with numbers, like the total water use per month, and how much trouble we are in with the dams. They however can make an impact with the small, everyday things, like taking a shower. And, if one does a competition, where humans can show off to another what their number are, and you keep it positive, and not penalising, humans play along - and makes the change that impacts the actuals. The house per-shower litres competition record is held by my wife now, coming in at 15.5 liters, all up ! I need to find a way to beat that records.
The key to this, is to have an easy to use front-end, where with one click, people can get info they need, of something that happened now, and they can adapt their beharviours !

People rule !IoT will help them to rule the new realities of business, and their environment !

Jéan.

(Originally posted on 18th November 2016)