Digitising water supply?

City of Cape Town makes access to clean water a digital priority

Effective ICT management of City of Cape Town’s Water and Sanitation workload improves service delivery to 4m residents.

CAPE TOWN, South Africa – 20 June 2018 – As one of the largest metros in South Africa, the City of Cape Town is tasked with providing an annual average of around 880 million litres of clean, safe drinking water daily to residents, businesses and industry, as well as effectively collecting and treating wastewater from the city. This requires world-class management of water catchment areas and appropriate storage and treatment of wastewater to ensure a healthy and safe community for all residents.

Dam of Lake Powell, USA — Image by © Theo Allofs/Corbis

Water and sanitation services provide people with dignity, and the provision of these services at all levels remains a challenge. Cape Town is a growing city – there is a consequential growth in the demand for water. We have aging infrastructure (some of our dams and pipelines are more than a century old) and recently the impact of the severe drought conditions. Mobility is one of the strategic initiatives of the department to help in addressing these challenges and will go a long way towards ensuring both infrastructure and financial sustainability,” says Peter Flower, Director Water and Sanitation for the City of Cape Town​.


To support its water and sanitation efforts, the City of Cape Town implemented a comprehensive mobile solution for the automation of asset management and field service processes. SAP Work Manager empowers the City of Cape Town’s workforce with digital tools to more efficiently install, inspect, maintain and repair water and sanitation assets. The technology enables workers to access, complete and manage their assigned work orders and service requests via their mobile devices. The mobile application is a key building block of the asset management master plan.  Mobility is enabling the City’s skilled maintenance teams to perform their work more efficiently and effectively and is providing it with near real-time information that is analysed to improve future decision making.

According to Mehmood Khan, Chief Operations Officer, at SAP Africa, the rise of smart cities is driving change in the public sector to improve the citizen experience. “In this era of connected citizens, local government institutions are increasingly looking for ways to improve service delivery and better engage with citizens. At the same time, a need to minimise operational expenditure by reducing maintenance costs associated with key infrastructure assets is driving the adoption of next-generation digital tools and making a positive impact in society.”

The City of Cape Town uses SAP Work Manager mobile applications to support several key function areas, including:

  • The Water Engineering Maintainer Application (WEMA) which is designed for Artisans or “Maintainers” to receive, execute and manage maintenance work orders through a mobile device, supporting greater team efficiencies;
  • The Water Engineering Supervisor Application (WEZA) will be is designed for superintendents to manage the allocation, release and review of team work orders;
  • The CityReads Meter Reading Application, which was designed to digitally capture meter readings in-house and in real time; and
  • The DisconnectReconnect Application which was designed to manage the capturing of field information by the technician for Disconnection and Reconnection works orders.

The City of Cape Town is also adding further applications the solution. “We are also excited about the recent implementation of the Reactive Issues Management Application (RIMA), which drastically improves the speed with which Customer Notifications can be actioned and responded to by field workers. This is having a positive impact on service delivery and is enhancing productivity by replacing paper-based processes,” says Aden Veldsman, Principal Water Inspector for the City of Cape Town.

With CityReads, the City no longer relies on third-party meter reading software service providers for support and maintenance, as all necessary support work can be provided internally. The SAP Work Manager solution enables real-time data capturing on a mobile device, including meter readings and photographs, which are all uploaded directly to the SAP solution. This is making a positive impact in terms of workforce optimization and improved data accuracy, as no recapturing of critical data is requiring, minimizing the likelihood of human error. Furthermore, the CityReads app has enhanced the meter reading cycle by improving the turnaround time for uploading of meter readings. To date the meter reading teams have captured over 3.7million meter readings using the CityReads mobile application at an average speed of 45-70 seconds per meter.

“The huge success of these mobility projects can be attributed to three main factors; SAP Work Manager being a solid, stable platform which does not require any backend development; users recognising the value of the applications to execute their daily tasks and excellent project team members,” added Peter Flower.

Khan says the future of asset management in the digital age begins now. “As government institutions move to establish smart cities fit for the digital age, having access to accurate, real-time data becomes imperative. The growing pervasiveness of connected assets via IoT technology, as well as the rise of a mobile-connected workforce, are creating unprecedented demand for quality data and the tools that can realise value from such data. By implementing the latest digital tools to empower its workforce in delivering one of the most important services – access to reliable water – to citizens, the City of Cape Town has taken a confident step toward enhancing its reputation as a world-class city for all.”

As part of SAP’s ongoing commitment towards helping cities across the continent to run best, SAP will be taking part at the upcoming Annual African Academic Forum taking place in the city of Cape Town from 21 to 22 June 2018. The forum will help find innovative solutions to enhance, complement and tackle learning and teaching challenges across Africa by introducing 21st century skills to the traditional curriculum in order to meet the demands of the digital economy.

Water pipeline — Image by © Ocean/Corbis