A prototype system to support efficient and cost-effective use of water
The prototype system supporting efficient use of water and management of its consumption in the household with tools including an application - is one of the results of recently completed international project, in which scientists from the University of Silesia have participated.
The research project, co-financed by the EU, was carried out in three years. It was a joint project of universities, research units and businesses from five European countries. The University of Silesia was the project coordinator.
The project consisted of several modules, concerning the development of decision support system for water resources management at the municipal level and at the level of individual households, a simulation program for so-called flexible water prices and creating a social platform.
According to project manager Dr. Ewa Magiera from the Institute of Computer Science, University of Silesia, the aim of the project was not to develop solutions to help save water - but rather to teach, how to effectively use it, for example, in households.
"We can not say: use less water, because sometimes this can not be done. There are places such as laboratories, where you can not go below a certain value of water consumption. Similarly in a situation where we teach children to wash their hands regularly - you can not do that with too little water" - Magiera told PAP.
It is possible, however - in her opinion - to change certain habits of water use and thus reduce its consumption during certain activities. This is the purpose of the prototype system proposed by researchers. It consists of flow meters/sensors fitting in different places in the household. Data on actual consumption from these sensors are processed and presented to the user with an application.
With different kinds of graphs users can see not only how much water they consume in specific activities, such as bathing, toilet or laundry, but may also receive tips on how to do it more economically. It is also possible to use the log function, which allows to monitor water consumption by a particular person.
40 households participated in the pilot project, including 20 in Sosnowiec. The collected data presented water consumption of the whole family, or - thanks to additional solutions in the application - of individual family members.
"At the beginning we had great doubts that people would want to share this type of information with us. It turned out that they did; in addition, after the pilot we made a survey in 10 apartments and most of the participants said that if they had the opportunity to use such software - for water and electricity - they would be interested" - emphasised Magiera.
Prototype system is ready. The researchers hope that thanks with the interest of, for example, water companies, software could be refined and then implemented. "I think that this system could be met with great interest, not only for water but also electricity. The advantage of our system is that we do not engage users too much. Users gets the information and then they can take action or not, but they fully control their water consumption" - she pointed out.
The results of the pilot have been used in scientific publications.
Other results of the project include a prototype decision support system for water resources management at the municipal level and a simulation program for so-called flexible water prices (the idea is to determine the relationship between consumption and the price of water).
The project also created a social platform (www.watersocial.org), where users, for example by playing games, can learn how to change habits to use water more efficiently and thus more cost-effectively. Polish language version of the website will still be improved.
The name of the recently completed project was: ISS-EWATUS – "Integrated support system for efficient water usage and resources management". It lasted from 1 February 2014 to 31 January 2017. It was summarized during a two-day meeting in Katowice.
PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland, Agnieszka Kliks-Pudlik