Our climate is changing, but water remains one of our most precious resources.
Australia is shaped by drought. We are a land of harsh terrain and harsh weather. Droughts over the last few years have had a large footprint, long duration and high intensity.
“The next war in the Middle East will be fought over water, not politics.” - Boutros Boutros Ghali
Water is finite and needed for survival. It's also needed as a source of income for many Australians. People are struggling, so we need to do our bit to help create a more sustainable future. The pressure on our water resources is only going to become more strained as our population increases at a rapid rate.
According to the Long Paddock statistics provided by the Australia Bureau of Meteorology, nearly 50% of Australia is affected by drought. The Long Paddock indicted 65% of Queensland is drought declared.
The global climate is changing, and we need to adapt to it. We can't wait for water restrictions to be implemented, instead, we need to take proactive measures to avoid them.
When exploring the challenges, we stumbled upon a fact we found surprising - the average water usage is 168 litres per person per day in south-east Queensland. We drink roughly 2 litres a day and that's all we thought about when considering what water we'd use in a day. So we asked ourselves a few questions. Where is all the other water used? Is that water being wasted? Can it be reduced?
We created H2O Hub to answer these questions and bring about a more sustainable future.
H2O Hub is app/dashboard used that tracks and monitors the use of water in your house, by connecting IoT connected sensors to outlets of water over, data will be collected and analysed by appliance, room and time. Keeping the data for a long period of time to show how water conservation habits are changing. There are also incentives, if you beat your household average, or approach a target set by your local council, you are rewarded with incentives that you can spend at local businesses.
H2O Hub is a three-part system made of sensors, data and incentives.
A sustainable water future starts with a household's water usage, with sensors connected to water outlets within the home. These sensors attach to existing taps, pipes, hoses or appliances that use water (like your washing machine or dishwasher). They monitor the water usage everywhere in your home where water is used, logging data to show you where you're using the most water.
Part II is a user-friendly data portal, where a household can see how much water they are using, where it's being used and when it's being used. With much of Australia facing water restrictions currently, it's important to know where you can reduce your water usage. H20 Hub allows for data-driven decisions, allowing everyone to manage their water consumption.
Part III is incentives.
“When the well is dry, we learn the worth of water” - Benjamin Franklin
We want the worth of saving water to be felt before the well runs dry. That's why built into H2O Hub are incentives. Partnering with councils and local businesses, we want to offer incentives for people or households to save water. If water usage is lower than a target amount set by councils, households are rewarded with discounts on rates, discounts or rewards with local businesses and partnerships with major businesses to offer rewards.
While H2O Hub offers the ability to make data-driven decisions to change your behaviour, we understand that it sometimes takes more to develop good habits that will benefit everyone's future. It's for this reason the incentive feature has been included, but not only will it reward responsible water management, but also creates a 'full circle' effect where the local economy can benefit as money is spent on local business.
Regions, where H2O Hub is rolled out, should be informed about the product and service, as well as the benefits, through their water provider. A brochure should be included in their water rates notice, an information kit provided to new home buyers or builders available from the council, and promoted on water provider and council websites.
The RoboRoyal's foresee H2O Hub having greater application than residential dwellings. It may also be used by local governments on public facilities — constantly running toilets or water leaks can be quickly attended. Conversely, a toilet that has not been flushed can indicate a malfunction and a repair crew dispatched. Increasing sustainable use of water all around.
Through the use of connected smart sensors, digestible data accessible for households, and ingenious incentives (alliteration (!), we know), H2O Hub is creating change for our future.
Councils within drought-declared areas have imposed water restrictions to limit the water consumption of each household. Within Queensland, these water restrictions are particularly strict in the Gladstone, Toowoomba, Ipswich and Bundaberg local government regions (Queensland Government – Drought Declarations). By the end of spring, the main water supply reservoir for Stanthorpe will be dry (www.abc.net.au, 5/8/2019). Towns that rely on underground water sources, such as Alice Springs also need to be mindful that the supply is finite and cap water use (Alicewatersmart.com.au). Australians need to ensure water consumption is sustainable and accounts for seasonal variations in supply and long-term climate change.
Reducing unnecessary consumption of water in our homes is vital to ensure a sustainable supply as our population increases. This is supported by the data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Water Count 2015-2016, ABS Water Count 2016-2017 and CSIRO CMIP5 Climatologies.
Data from Census (ABS), Water Account Australia – State and Territories Summaries (ABS) and the National Water Account (Bureau of Meteorology) allowed us to use information regarding water availability, population and average water use per person.
We assumed that the water used on Antarctic bases (Australian Antarctic Division) per person (approx. 110 litres/person/day) is the minimum requirements. We compared that to the average amount used by a residential household (168 litres/person/day in Unity Water area).
To model our solution, we used data available from various web sources to create a mock-up dataset. This data replicates that which would be received by the sensors in our solution. We created an MVP dashboard using this data to show how data-driven decisions can enable more sustainable water use.
Description of Use: This was used to analyse long term rainfall data and find trends in rainfall, corroborating it with frequently drought declared areas.
National Water Account 2018 - South East Queensland: Key findings
Description of Use: The National Water Account 2018 - South East Queensland: Key findings was used to the amount of water available, by looking at the amount of rainfall and storage. As well as water use statistics, such as where water is sourced and where it's supplied.
Water and sewerage service provider Qld key performance indicator data 2015/16
Description of Use: These data sets outlined the key performance indicators submitted by water and sewerage service providers including metrics for customer service, water security and financial sustainability. We used this to gauge a total number of people who are connected to mains water within the Queensland Urban Utilities Region. Everyone connected is a potential user of these services - especially as drought water restrictions are rolling out.
Total potable water consumption (litres) Australian Antarctic Data Centre
Description of Use: This data set identifies the total amount of potable water consumed per person per day on each station. Antarctica has no plants to water or pools to fill, so the only water being used would be necessary. These statistics were used to provide an extreme water conservation target that could be set during water restrictions or as a goal to achieve using our project.
Water Account Australia - State and Territory Summaries
Description of Use: This data set was used to find the water use of each state, broken down into categories. This in turn allowed us to calculate the average water usage per person, as well as total water usage of the state or territory. Using this we were able to estimate how much less water could be used by the Northern Territory is everybody used 10 litres less per day.
Quick statistics of 2016 census data
Description of Use: This data set was used to find the average household size, allowing an estimate to be made, in conjunction with other data sets, as to the water use per person per day in the Northern Territory.
Monthly Electoral Roll Statistics 2016 – 2017
Description of Use: This data was used to gauge the total number of people within the NT, allowing us to calculate total water usage when used in conjunction with other data sets and impact of our project.
Australian honey bee industry: 2014-15 survey results
Description of Use: This data set uses key performance measures for beekeeping businesses including analysis of pollination services, use of public lands, challenges facing the beekeeping industry and the extent to which research and information is sought and implemented. Bee's can't conserve water, but they do pollinate flowers, and are an integral part to providing food for us. Drought influences this, and in turn influences us. This data set was used to see the indirect, but adverse, affects of drought.
Description of Use: This data provides current information regarding climate change statistics over the past 40 years. This allowed us to see how droughts were becoming more prevalent and extended throughout the country, and how this has changed over the past 40 years.
Drought declarations - Queensland series
Description of Use: The statistics from the Queensland Drought Declaration Series was used to determine drought declared areas over Queensland and the rising percentage of drought in areas across Australia.
ABS Water Account 15-16
Description of Use: Using the statistics on Water Account and the consumptive use of water in 15-16 to analyse average water usage in an industry or household.
ABS Water Account 16-17
Description of Use: Using the statistics on Water Account and the consumptive use of water in 16-17 to analyse average water usage in an industry or household.