Nowadays, prepayment products and systems have been put to use in many impressive ways, covering not only traditional residential users, but also industrial and commercial users; not only the electricity meter system, but also the water meter and gas meter system; not only the smart integrated meter system with one key (card), but also the multi-meter system.

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The prepaid method can either be the contact type IC card, or the non-contact type IC card – or the CPU card, or Keypad import, or network, and so on. As a leading meter provider, Wasion has had considerable experience in prepayment products and systems. We have had success with an IC card residential prepayment system in Africa, a power consumption management system in a Taiwanese high school, a network prepayment system in Singapore and a prepayment irrigation system in Bangladesh.The following case study describes the Wasion-BMDA project in Bangladesh.

1.Project background

The responsibility of the BMDA

The BMDA is the Barind Multipurpose Development Authority, a government authority responsible for the agricultural development and management of the northwestern Bengal cities Rajshahi, Dinajpur, Rangpur and Bogra. One of the BMDA’s most important responsibilities is to ensure an adequate water supply in the dry season for the agricultural land in the region. The purpose of this project was to provide the cities with a prepayment system for the irrigation of the public fields.

Original management mode

The BMDA used to charge the farmers according to time of use. Previously the users purchased water coupons of different values from any local office of BMDA, and presented the water coupons to the administrator of the water pump house. The administrators would control the measurement and billing. Problems with the original management mode

  • Data management by the administrators over such widely dispersed locations was inefficient and inaccurate.
  • There was inconsistency between the measuring and the billing, as the actual operation could not be monitored.
  • It was not a fair or transparent system for the users.
  • Water quantities needed to be more accurately measured
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2.Wasion’s solution

Design thinking

It was necessary to design a network prepayment system and to install in each water pump house an electronic power meter that could implement the prepayment system through IC card meter management. Users would recharge their IC cards and then insert them into the meter to start the water pump valve. Thus the measuring, billing, water pump valve operation and data storage would be managed by electronic meters.

System structure

The system consists of an SMS (system master station), a VS (vending station), an MVU (mobile vending unit), an SC (smart card) and a prepaid box.

  1. The SMS is located at the BMDA head office and controls the management of all files, multi-tariffs, parameters, data storage and data analysis, and authorises the movable water vendor units.
  2. The VS is located at the sub-offices, monitors the users and local water pump offices, and manages the movable water vendors. The preferred communication between the VS and the SMS is the GPRS, as other methods would be too unreliable.
  3. Considering the poor state of transportation in the BMDA districts, the role of the MVU retailers is specially designed. The retailers recharge the values through HHU in the VS, vending to end users and drawing a commission from the BMDA.
  4. All the prepaid meters, air valves and start control units need to be installed in cases in each water pump house.

4.Project information Under the management of the BMDA, 15,000 water pump houses for the prepayment system have been planned. The first phase, between August 2005 and July 2006, designed, tested and installed 500 sets of prepaid meter cases. The second phase, between August 2006 and December 2010, will expand to 100,000 water pump houses, and finish the network prepayment system construction. The third phase will cover all the water pump houses. The first phase has been completed successfully: Wasion has installed 4,000 sets of prepaid meter cases on site, and implemented a network system based on GPRS.

4.Sharing our experience Providing an advanced measuring and billing system to end users not only greatly improved efficiency, but also offered the BMDA programmes to search and analyse data. Standard management resulted in the incoming revenues increasing by 15% in the next year. In addition, the farmers have become aware of the need to save water. For example, the average usage for the BMDA regions is 2,500 litres, much lower than the national average of 4,000 litres.

Overall, the project has received a high rating in Bangladesh, with both the BMDA authority and the farmers reaping considerable benefits.