Smart metering – the ability to constantly monitor usage 24/7 – has come to the city of Bnei Brak. But those meters take a rest on Shabbos, thanks to an Israeli water tech company, Arad Technologies.
“Our ‘glatt [super-kosher] water meter’ overcomes the problem of a smart water meter operating on Shabbat,” said Tal Tzur, VP Software & IT at Arad. “It allows us to install modern equipment in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods to help save water, prevent leaks, and save money for residents.”
It also alleviated a situation, said Tzur, in which residents of places like Jerusalem’s Mea Shearim neighborhood, Tzefas, and Bnei Brak were planning to do without tap water on Shabbos in order to avoid violating the sanctity of the holy day.
While water metering sounds like an old-tech industry, it is actually on the leading edge of technology. With wifi connections and GPS chips built into meters, servers can now gobble up endless reams of data about water usage. While in the old days, the water company would send out a meter-reader to see how much water a household or business used, smart monitoring technology allows the water utility to keep a constant eye out on water usage.
“Water is more expensive than ever, and ensuring a steady supply of clean water is more of a challenge, as populations grow and industry expands,” Arad vice president Rami Ziv told The Times of Israel on the sidelines of a huge WaTec (Water Technology and Environment Control) exhibition in Tel Aviv this week. “Smart metering is an important way to get water usage under control.”
With a smart meter installed at a water facility, a utility can keep an eye on field installations and get an alert if water usage goes above a certain level. The same holds true for a home user; if water usage seems too high, the utility can contact the customer and ask them if a faucet was left on accidentally, or help to uncover an unknown leak. Smart meters can also detect if someone is tampering with the water infrastructure – illegally tapping into it in order to steal water, for example.
Ziv said water utilities in most Western countries lose an average of about 20% of water from their systems, and developing countries in Africa and Asia along the lines of 50%.
Smart metering, though, can solve that issue. In the central Samaria town of Ariel, water losses to the municipal system used to average around 18%; today, after the installation of Arad smart meters, said Ziv, the city loses just 3.7% of its water.
The Shabbos-friendly smart meters are just as high-tech as other smart meters, with one difference; instead of a digital readout, they use a traditional “dial,” with numbers on the indicator moving as water is used.
The system transmits information about the state of water usage right before Shabbos begins, then stops until after Shabbos, when it checks the dial to see how much water was used. Tzur said that the rabbis determined that the movement of the meter’s analog dial as water was used was not a Shabbos violation.
The solution was heartily approved by Rav Shevach Rosenblatt of the Kehillos Chareidim kashrus certification organization, and Maran Rav Nissim Karelitz, one of the most respected poskim in the world.
Read more at Times of Israel.