Planning smarter, more sustainable cities

by Ofentse Sefolo
Planning smarter, more sustainable cities

South African cities are feeling the impact of climate change, and are starting to realise the importance of implementing more efficient measures to manage and maintain cities more sustainably. And these are things that will have to be considered in all new building and infrastructure designs, to make it as easy as possible for behaviours to change and for services to be managed more efficiently and proactively.

Johannesburg must recycle
In Johannesburg, the city’s landfills are quickly running out of space and a voluntary separation-at-source programme launched in 2009 had some impact, but not nearly as much as hoped. To increase recycling, separation at source has now become compulsory in many areas of the city, with the City of Joburg’s and Pikitup’s mandatory separation-at-source programme having kicked off on 1 July 2018.

Elaine Jack, city improvement district manager of the Sandton Central Management District, has welcomed the news. “Sandton Central is home to what is arguably the continent’s biggest number of certified green buildings in a central business district (CBD), it’s an international example of eco-mobility and it has three lovely green parks – it’s a world-class leading city that prioritises good environmental practices. To those who are already recycling, well done and thank you. The more we work together, the bigger our positive impacts,” she states.

The programme makes it easy for both households and local businesses to recycle waste – all they need to do, is to separate it.

The mandatory separation-at-source programme will be phased in with phase one focused on areas where it has already started. Each address will receive a clear or blue plastic bag weekly, in which people can place recyclables such as paper, plastic, metal (cans) and glass for collection on the same day as refuse. Multi-unit dwellings, such as residential apartments and complexes, will receive recycling bags through their body corporates or chosen body. (To register buildings that are not receiving bags, one can phone Joburg Connect on 0860562874.)

By placing dry, recyclable waste in a separate bag for collection, less waste will go to the city’s landfills, and more waste will be reused and recycled. Recycling in this way will also continue to support waste pickers, with more recyclables available at the point where they typically collect what’s valuable to them.

In areas where the separation-at-source programme is still not rolled out, residents are encouraged to take recyclables to the nearest garden site/drop-off centre. Garden waste, however, must be dropped at a Pikitup drop-off site for compositing or further processing. Visit www.pikitup.co.za for details.

“There are no penalties to enforce mandatory separation at source, but that’s not the point. It’s the responsible thing to do, and the environmental cost of not recycling is huge,” says Jack.

Intelligent water analytics for Cape Town
To address the water scarcity challenge in a cost-effective way with the help of technology, the City of Cape Town is combining intelligent water infrastructure with data analytics to yield actionable information and proactive water management.

During August 2018, the City is rolling out two applications (apps), utiliPro and utiliRead, from USC Metering Pty Ltd, which trades as Utility Systems, to approximately 500 terminals.

This move from Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) to Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) is an evolution from reactive to proactive water management and will, in future, allow for the remote management, control and reading of all meters under the City’s management.

Darren Oxlee, CTO of Utility Systems, explains: “The richness of these solutions comes from the near real-time data, the ability to analyse and model this data, and the channel for communicating bi-directionally with water meters. Eventually, the City will have insight into how water is being used, where it is being lost and how to manage it in the future.”

This will enable the City of Cape Town to better control its water assets and execute strategic water planning, by leveraging a fully configurable smart-metering device in a manageable and auditable way.

Specifically, administrators using utiliPro can set a meter’s daily allocation and ensure responsible use of water. Technicians can perform in-field administration, testing and configuration of devices without approaching the device.

The meter readers’ app, utiliRead, provides an easy tool for reading meters, learning the route on which meters are to be read, recalling the route and identifying unread meters. It significantly improves the accuracy of meter reading and reduces time wasted when missed meters must be revisited.

End-users will enjoy more accurate billing, better water management during droughts, faster diagnoses of faults and speedier resolution of issues.

In terms of the bigger picture, Oxlee adds: “Integration into other municipal systems and data points will provide richer data sets for more meaningful decision-making. For example, non-revenue water losses have a material impact on municipalities’ electricity consumption, because the cost of potable water (nearly) always includes a power component (pumping, effluent treatment, sewerage works, etc.). By better understanding these relationships, municipalities will be better able to manage their assets in a more integrated, sustainable manner and improve strategic planning.”

Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to the Sandton Central Management District and Utility Systems for the information given to write this article.

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