Major break-through in Bulawayo to improve customer database linked with GIS

Many water utilities all over the world struggle to update their customer database and face enormous challenges with unregistered, unbilled or illegal customers, feeding the commercial Non-Revenue Water.

The WaterWorX partner City of Bulawayo (Zimbabwe’s second largest city) requested Mr. Sjoerd Rijpkema, from the Dutch Vitens, to develop a script to link data from customers in the customer database (BIQ) to all individual properties, captured in the cadastral map of Bulawayo.

The script was enriched with information from the Meter Reading App that is being used in Bulawayo since a few years. The geocoded meter reading information was blended with the customer database (BIQ) and the cadastral map to further optimize the accuracy of information to link customers to properties.

This allows:
• Determining the total billed water consumption in a District Metering Area (DMA), suburb or street.
• Using the above information to feed hydraulic models, can be generated automatically based on the latest billing information
• Plotting maps with the outstanding payments for debt collection, and
• Identify which properties that are not being billed for their water consumption

By linking information of customers to their property in GIS a wealth of information comes available and makes the system much more efficient.

Picture showing a property that is not reflected in the billing database (red) and the different blue points were meter reading were taken with the meter reading App.

Picture showing billed water consumption per property/customer

In the meantime, the quality of cadastral mapping will be enhanced by using a drone that was supplied by WaterWorX. Edwin Blaauwgeers from water utility Vitens trained the Bulawayo team how to use the drone. As from March 2020, the whole city of Bulawayo is being mapped to enhance the quality of the GIS/cadastral database, as well as aerial inspections of several municipal services.