The most innovative S&T area for urban water, sanitation and electricity services in recent years has been integrated metering and commercial systems for water, sanitation and electricity utilities. This has been all the rage for private sector participation and for reformed public utilities. Getting customers into commercial databases, metering them, issuing bills and collecting bills is a key driver of making services sustainable, and creating a foundation upon which to expand services. USAID has done a lot of work related to new commercial systems in water, sanitation and electricity utilities in the past 15 years. It is a big area for development investment, and there is a huge opportunity for further progress in dealing with metering and IT for utilities in difficult situations, such as Afghanistan, Haiti, Sudan, Liberia, and Pakistan.
What is the S&T about this? It is: (1) metering S&T, which is a whole world unto itself; (2) utility commercial IT systems, again, a whole world unto itself, and (3) integrated packages of meters and IT that fit difficult development "markets" where theft, corruption, and capacity constraints are a major issue. Information related to theft, meter tampering and billing information, for example, can be automatically sent to a central meter management and commercial system, enabling more effective loss reduction, improved revenue collection, and integration of these activities with energy efficiency and Demand Side Management programs.
This area has a potentially huge impact on the quality and continuity of water, sanitation and electricity services.