IBM picks Big Data to solve water issues in South Africa

Infotech Lead Africa: Software major IBM has picked up Big Data to solve water issues in South Africa.

This is part of marking World Water Day.

IBM on Friday said it would launch a crowdsourcing project to help capture, share and analyze information about the water distribution system in South Africa.

The project — WaterWatchers — will use new mobile phone application and SMS capability to enable South African citizens to report water leaks, faulty water pipes and general conditions of water canals.

The free app is available for Android. The SMS capability together provide an easy way for anyone to collect and report issues on local waterways and pipes to a centralized port

After taking a photo and answering three questions about particular water canal or pipe, the data is uploaded in real-time to a central database. After 30 days, the data will be analyzed and aggregated into a meaningful leak hot spot map for South Africa.

IBM South Africa Smarter Planet Executive Ahmed Simjee said that its is a unique exercise in crowdsourcing for South Africa.

By enabling individuals to gather and submit data, WaterWatchers represents a new kind of data aggregation, analytics and visualization for water planners in South Africa.

IBM began exploring crowdsourcing to address water related issues in San Jose, California, with its CreekWatch mobile app, which is available and currently being used in more than 25 countries.

Under spending on water in South Africa has seen the department of water affairs increase spending by 20 percent to $900 million in 2011- 2012.

Similarly, spending on water sector management has increased by 28.8 percent year on year over the same period and spending on water infrastructure management has risen by 13.2 percent year on year.

But the pressure of urban population influx continues to place more strain on ageing water infrastructure. According to the 2011 Census, ninety-three percent of South African households had access to safe water in 2010 but only 45 percent of those with access to water actually had it in their homes.


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