Social Enterprise Wins Prestigious National Science Foundation Award
Deploys Cellular and Satellite Sensors Improving Rural Water Service Delivery for a Million People
Portland, Oregon and Nairobi, Kenya – Building on the rapid growth in cellular connectivity and access to mobile-enabled financial and energy services in Sub-Saharan Africa, SweetSense Inc. is harnessing the power of Internet of Things technology to improve water, sanitation, and agriculture services. SweetSense is deploying a cost-effective monitoring system to improve water service capability for more than a million people in East Africa. SweetSense technology optimizes operations and maintenance systems, enable new business models for local entrepreneurs, and improve overall uptime of water pumps that hundreds of millions of people around the world rely on for drinking, cleaning, agriculture, and livestock.
SweetSense CEO, Professor Evan Thomas, led the technology development at Portland State University and founded the company in 2012. “Following five years of research and development, pilot projects, and foundation support, SweetSense has reached a tipping point with our recent National Science Foundation Award, $2 million in additional contracts for water monitoring services, and strategic partnerships with many of the leading players in the sector,” he said.
The Cisco Foundation, GSMA, Aeris, and the United Nations alike have called for scaling Internet of Things applications as enabling technologies for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The NSF Award will enable SweetSense to develop and apply machine learning statistical tools to its existing sensor platform to enable prediction and preemptive response to water point failures. The award will enable SweetSense to not only further drive down costs of the technology – but fuel its market-making role in the sector. The award will also catalyze existing research and service contracts in Kenya and Ethiopia.
Partnered with the Millennium Water Alliance, Catholic Relief Services, NASA, IBM Research and others, SweetSense is playing a critical role in the Kenya Resilient and Arid Lands Partnership for Integrated Development – a $35 million public-private partnership to expand access to water and sustainable livestock and rangeland management practices in five northern counties of Kenya. The SweetSense platform alert local technicians of a waterpoint breakdown and assist rural water service delivery providers to improve uptime of water pumps.
Working with AECOM in Ethiopia, SweetSense’s remote monitoring platform will be installed on all of the mechanized waterpoints in Afar, to improve water service delivery. The program will increase the availability of improved sustainable drinking water sources, increase access to better sanitation products and services, and build capacity for for enhanced knowledge and data management in a region exposed to chronic drought conditions.
“We believe the most efficient path to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals is to optimize water service delivery for the existing infrastructure we have in place today. SweetSense is providing the missing technology and expertise link to enable truly sustainable water service delivery that communities are willing to pay for, and accountability that funders in the development sector demand,” said SweetSense Business Development Director, Dexter Gauntlett.
SweetSense is currently raising a $2 million investment round in order to further reduce costs, expand its market presence, and transition to a sensor-as-a-service recurring revenue model with potential to reach more than 50 million people in the next five years.https://www.youtube.com/embed/vjvUyco1C30?feature=oembed&wmode=transparent
Matt Tolbirt [email protected]
SweetSense is an internet of things (IoT) technology that remotely monitors performance of water, agriculture, sanitation, and energy projects in near-realtime in order to improve service delivery, accountability, and enable new business models in developing countries. We have deployed more than 1000 sensors over the past 5 years, monitoring boreholes, handpumps, cook stoves, latrines, water filters, and other interventions. We work closely with government, NGOs, and private companies to develop cost-effective, sustainable, and accountable water delivery schemes that improve health. Video of SweetSense CEO | https://www.sweetsensors.com
- Satellite Monitoring: An Innovative Solution for Water Management, Medium, 2017
- “Harnessing the Internet of Things for Global Development”, ITU, Cisco 2017
- “Mobile for Development Utilities Programme: The Role of Mobile in Improved Sanitation Access”, GSMA 2015
- “The gap between access to mobile and access to basic infrastructure such as utility services, has kept growing to the extent that, between 2002 and 2012, for every person gaining access to improved sanitation, ~2.5 persons became mobile subscribers.” Source: Mobile for Development Utilities Programme: The Role of Mobile in Improved Sanitation Access (GSMA cites “GSMA M4D Utilities, 2015”)
- ”For example in Kenya, where access to sanitation is reported at 30%,10 people are more likely to conduct financial transactions through their mobile money account (59% of the adult population use mobile money) and browse the internet on their mobile phone (up to 40% of the population), rather than benefit from the dignity, privacy and convenience of a well-maintained toilet.” Source: “The Role of Mobile in Improved Sanitation Access”, GSMA 2015 (GSMA cites “Joint Monitoring Program, 2015”)