Organisations in today's digital environment are competing for relevance through a process of digitisation and utilising technology to capture information accurately with immediate process impact. The Government sectors throughout the globe are no exception and Nelson Mandela Bay (NMBM) is at the forefront of this process, driven to delivering service excellence through digital technologies and a Smart City philosophy. The meter reading application, developed by Britehouse Mobility, using the Atajo platform, is delivering just that.
NMBM was formed as an administrative authority, to service the 1.15 million populace, within the greater Port Elizabeth region, neighbouring towns and surrounding agricultural areas, covering approximately 2000km². The region is the sixth largest by population and ranked second and fourth respectively, for the supply of water and electricity in South Africa. NMBM have a cumulative budget expenditure estimate of only R29bn, over three years from 2016. A mere 31.04% (R10.6bn) of this is allocated to the bulk purchasing of water and electricity only for the general population within greater Port Elizabeth. A provision of only R532.8m per annum, over the next three years is allocated to the maintenance, upgrade, service, billing and management of the entire water and electrical supply network.
NMBM supplies electricity and water to over 297, 000 private and commercial premises, with tariffs that are amongst the lowest in the world.
Environmental awareness and social responsibility, coupled with a low rate of educated youth, are amongst the primary reasons why NMBM constantly seeks innovative ways to reduce expenditure whilst maximising available skills and resources within the region.
NMBM provides electricity and water meter readings to over 297,000 facilities, coupled with the added responsibility to continuously deliver accurate billing and collect payment for these primary services.
Although NMBM are amongst the first adopters of mobile technology in the workplace, the original solution was in dire need of an upgrade. The primary reason was due to an aging mobile infrastructure and the potentially high cost to replace the dated hardware. Moreover, mobile software technologies have, within the past five years, become comprehensive digital solutions, able to gather a far greater amount of information with instantaneous data capturing functionality.
Third party NMBM contractors are responsible to employ reliable teams that physically go out and read the meters. NMBM remunerates these contractors per meter reading and requires this pertinent information to deliver readings for accurate billing purposes.
At times, it is not possible for a contractor to conduct an accurate meter reading. These factors include but aren't limited to damaged or tampered meters, contractors denied access or meters that have been removed. In the past, the contractors weren't able to record or prove these factors. Over and above these challenges, meter readings were erroneously captured, which resulted in incorrect billing of water and electricity usage.
NMBM needed an innovative and effective solution to address these challenges, facilitate new requirements and accommodate for the unstable South African Cellular networks.
The Smart Solution
NMBM partnered with Britehouse Mobility to successfully develop an end-to-end mobile solution and reliable, sturdy hardware, implemented with the next-generation business platform, Atajo.
Atajo, with its robust technological capabilities, enables NMBM to discard former constraints, whilst adhering to stringent POPI requirements, and its internal policies.
Britehouse Mobility adopted the concerns of NMBM, embraced a partnership approach to develop a smart mobile meter reading application that exceeded requirements and facilitated each need to enhance the solution and give NMBM a citizen centric deliverable.
The smart meter reading application enables the contractors to take accurate meter readings, enter a comment or exception, as well as record and verify the readings with an image.
Atajo successfully and flawlessly integrates into NMBM's multifaceted backend system. The image capture and upload functionality increases visibility and gives the control back to NMBM through a customised backend.
NMBM is now able to view the reasons for variances and the ability to accept or reject any reasons for not reading a specific meter. Verified, accurate water and electricity meter readings are now possible.
The captured data syncs in real time and in the event of no connectivity, the system continues to operate offline and captures data. Once connectivity is restored, it automatically uploads into the existing backend and NMBM ERP software system.
This guarantees no loss of data, or the need to re-submit data once captured. This is especially critical to accommodate unreliable networks in South Africa and Africa.
Through the intelligent meter reading application with full GPS capabilities and the route map functionality within the Atajo platform, NMBM is now able to verify the location of each contractor and meter read.
Adapting to change being the only constant, the entire solution can easily evolve and adjust to increased business needs to ensure long term sustainability.
This solution was developed using Atajo advanced technology. Atajo is a multipurpose platform designed to interact across an entire organisation. It enables improved operation productivity and allows organisations to expedite time-consuming and administrative processes, while reducing costs by integrating a multitude of systems. Atajo enables a seamless single paperless action, from anywhere in the world, to trigger a chain reaction throughout your entire business.
ABOUT Britehouse Mobility
Enterprise Mobility is a challenge of complexity, a multitude of smart devices and connectivity options that seamlessly integrates with a variety of applications, technology platforms and data formats to backend systems. Britehouse Mobility assists in mobilising these business processes and harnesses the power of enterprise mobility. With a combined experience that exceeds 60 years in enterprise mobility, and part of the powerful 2,000 plus employee strong Dimension Data Digital Practice, Britehouse Mobility is the leading choice when it comes to smart tailored and pre-packaged mobility solutions.
· Affordable, cost effective
· Increased visibility
· Enhanced customer service
· Increased motivation and productivity
· Real-time accuracy
· Reduced human error
· Accurate billing
· Long term sustainability