Two Kenyans who set up a GPS and internet enabled device that monitors the use of water in homes, farms and businesses have won “Startup of the year Africa 2018” award in Casablanca, Morocco. The Kenyans beat more than 600 startups from 52 different countries who took part.
The device, HydroIQ, is a virtual water network operator and is the work of two young electronics and engineering graduates: Brian Bosire who graduated from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology with a BSC, Electronics & Computer Engineering and Victor Shikoli, who graduated from Mt Kenya University with a degree in Electrical & Electronics Engineering.
“We are developing HydroIQ, the world first virtual water network operator (VWNO). We are developing a new business model that allows the water industry to digitize processes by reducing the upfront investments, the cost and time of adoption and optimizing the efficiency in order to deliver the highest standard value to the consumers, “ they say about their new innovation.
The two founders got motivated by the fact that they were both brought up in western Kenya and moved to the city Nairobi more than 8 years ago.
“One of the bills you have to pay is water and at the end of every month, you receive a water bill which you have to pay despite of the fact that water taps remain dry 2-3 days week. This is not an isolated case but a problem that affects over 3 million residents in Nairobi alone. Yet water accounts for almost 11% of the daily income, “ they say.
HydroIQ is a GPS and internet enabled device that is plugged into existing water supply systems, in homes or businesses and along water distribution network to automatically monitor water use, water quality and water leakages using sensors. It then sends the data to an online platform in real-time, thereby turning traditional water systems into smart water grids to improve water efficiencies, sanitation and hygiene.
HydroIQ thus reduces wastage and ensures profitability, healthy and efficient ecosystem in urban areas.
The online platform allows registered users to monitor and receive water bills and make payments via mobile money, eliminating the need for the costly and erroneous physical meter reading in the traditional model. HydroIQ device ensures aggregation of real-time data on water consumption and distribution which through data analytics provides insights for informed decision making.
“We install HydroIQ devices at household and distribute to them water which we sell at a prepaid wholesale price to the consumer and perform data analytics to provide information to the water utilities,” the duo says.
In Kenya, Davis & Shirtliff is the biggest water metering solutions provider. However, they provide manual water reading technologies.
HydroIQ’s technology allows for a pay to own model for distributed payment plans hence reducing the upfront cost of taking up the technology, which has been a barrier to adoption of technology by utility companies, water service boards, and consumers.