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Indonesia's water sector: leveraging digital transformation for better water management

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Putri Respati
Director of Bima Sakti Alterra.

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  • Indonesia's water sector: leveraging digital transformation for better water management

The buzz around digital transformation has been gaining momentum in both public and private sectors globally, including Indonesia. With a population of more than 270 million, the Indonesian government has launched initiatives like "Making Indonesia 4.0" and "Towards 100 Smart Cities" to embrace digitalisation. Digital frameworks in governance can reduce costs and effort, leading to improved overall operations.

Indonesia's local water companies, known as PDAMs, have also begun modernizing their operations and services through the use of digital technology. They have implemented applications to read customer meters, process digital billing, and manage complaints, employee databases, and payroll, making administrative processes faster and more efficient.

However, the core service of water companies is water production and distribution. The biggest challenge facing PDAMs throughout Indonesia is water loss, with a national average of 33.24% non-revenue water (NRW). The lack of reliable real-time water loss detection and measurement systems means that the actual number could be higher, resulting in financial losses and risking water resource preservation.

To minimise water loss, reliable data on water flow from production to consumption at the customer level is necessary. Digital technology such as IoT-based sensors can provide real-time reports on water flow and usage, as well as asset performance in the field. Anomalies can be detected quickly, enabling the identification of root causes and suggestions for improvement.

The biggest challenge facing PDAMs throughout Indonesia is water loss, with a national average of 33.24% non-revenue water

Smart remote-control technology integrated with monitoring systems can enable quick decision-making, while dashboards displaying real-time data can improve coordination between departments and support leaders in decision-making and policy formulation. However, challenges such as unequal distribution of quality education and lack of investment capabilities need to be addressed to facilitate digital transformation.

Bima Sakti Alterra (BSA), a company committed to providing solutions for PDAMs operational challenges, has upgraded technological innovations to help over 100 PDAMs in Indonesia in the past 14 years. PERUMDAM Tirta Sanjiwani is among 100 of BSA’s clients that have committed to implementing Smart Water Grid Management (SWGM) in the early stages. Earlier in 2023, Perumdam Tirta Sanjiwani and Bima Sakti Alterra had agreed to implement a more comprehensive SWGM solution, which was piloted in the Blahbatuh technical zone. The pilot project will isolate water flow from production to consumption for 70 households. A water level sensor is installed in the reservoir to provide real-time information to prevent under as well as overcapacity. The minimum level of water is adjusted to the customer’s water demand level so that the continuity of water to the customer is maintained.

Pressure and flow sensors are also installed in critical distribution networks that will help the water company to identify earlier if there is a drop in water pressure which can impact on a decrease in service. On the end users’ side, smart water meters were being installed, which will make the NRW rate more accurate since water usage data is measured in real-time.

After all the sensors above are installed, the system will be able to provide a comprehensive picture of the whole water distribution process. This data will later be displayed in a more comprehensive manner through the Supply Chain System portal and the Integrated Command Centre (ICC).

Its SWGM technology integrates water management infrastructure, risk management, and data analysis to support decision-making and smoother operations through a multidimensional ICT-based approach. The SWGM's ecosystem includes IoT-based sensors, real-time data and alert management, and data visualisation in a command centre dashboard, providing a sustainable one-stop solution to improve water management technology from upstream to downstream.

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