Sarawak moving towards single billing for utilities

Dr Abdul Rahman (standing centre) and Mohd Danel (standing second from right) witnessing the signing of documents between Alex Lau, director of Real Icon-cum-chief executive officer of Anacle System Limited of Singapore (left) and Hazrin Abu Bakar, chief executive officer of KIWITECH Sdn at the launching of Sarawak Smart Green Home Project in Kuching today (May 29, 2019).

By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, May 29: Sarawak is now capable of implementing a single bill for water, electricity and gas supplies, revealed Real Icon Sdn Bhd director Datuk Mohd Danel Abong.

“We have the technology and with the conducive policy of the Sarawak government’s emphasis on digital economy, we are moving in the right direction to have single billing,” he told DayakDaily after the launching of the Sarawak Smart Green Home Project organised by Real Icon at SMA-Tegas Digital Innovation Hub at Icom Square, here, today.

He added that with the smart metering pilot project for water supply for 50 households in Petra Jaya, it would lead the way for such an endeavour to become a reality.

“When we installed this first Smart Green Home System, Sarawak became the first in Malaysia to put in place the first commercial operation of an Internet of Things (IoT) device using the NB-IOT telecommunications network launched by Maxis last month.

“And this is also the first time that a multi-utility meter is installed for commercial operations in Malaysia. As far as I know, it is also the first in the region. The Hyper Smart Meter that is at the heart of the Smart Green Home System does not only meter power or electricity consumption but also at the same time water consumption and gas too if available for reticulation for residents,” he explained.

Mohd Danel added that its technology partner, Anacle System Limited of Singapore, had won a contract for such project in Singapore after conducting a pilot project for over a year for a Smart Green Home for the HDB Flats in the island republic under the Government Smart Nation Program.

“It has become a point of interest to us when we learnt that Maxis is embarking on NB-IOT, which in principle provides cheaper connectivity cost than the conventional 3G or 4G. This makes a project like the Smart Green Home become more viable,” he said.

Meanwhile, Assistant Minister for Rural Electricity Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi, who officiated at the function, said single billing for utilities could be implemented once the state cabinet endorsed it.

“This Smart Green Home Pilot is indeed an exciting project with clear-cut benefits. I was told the pilot project is to cover selected houses in Petra Jaya,” he said.

He added that he was fascinated by the project, which could catapult Sarawak well ahead of others in Malaysia.

“This project has the potential to make metering more efficient and effective for the utilities by not only metering remotely and automatically (and, therefore, do away with manual reading) but it can also combine the metering of the various utilities into a single process,” he said.

However, unfortunately, the state is hackled by its historical heritage, he lamented.

“Like many other countries, when we start providing utility services, we allowed separate entities to operate, and as these entities grew bigger through time and developed their own systems and procedures, that becomes entrenched and difficult to dismantle although there are compelling benefits of doing so,” he explained.

Dr Abdul Rahman (seated third from right) and Mohd Danel (seated second from right) with other dignitaries at the launching of Sarawak Smart Green Home Project in Kuching today (May 29, 2019).

Dr Abdul Rahman said the key would be the right implementation strategy that would ease the change for the systems as well as for the humans involved and minimise the necessary aches during the transition.

“As wi-fi is enabled in this meter, it provides consumers with an inexpensive way of experiencing smart living through the remote control of their home devices using the supplied mobile apps installed in their smartphones. For those of us who can afford a full-fledged smart home system and are tech savvy, this is no big deal, but for the low-income group that this type of project is targeting, it is a big deal.

“For the government, this is a fantastic way of educating the majority of the population in smart living. This can be one enjoyable way of elevating the tech literacy of the population to reach a critical point that will propel the country towards the promised digital economy,” he added.

He reiterated that the Sarawak government had always wanted residents to save their power, water or gas consumption but these residents don’t have any convenient way of tracking their usage and, therefore, easily lose motivation even though they were keen at the initial stage.

“So, here we have a device to fill in that gap. The benefit to the consumers is, of course, less spending at least for their power, water and gas usage. To the country, it is conservation of the environment and optimal enjoyment of depletable resources.

“Water may not be seen as exhaustive compared to gas or coal for electricity generation but potable water is not unlimited. Potable water needs to be conserved so that a maximum number of people can benefit,” he added. — DayakDaily