Saturday July 21, 2018

Davao IT firm launches app for water, electricity

NEXT BPO Solutions, through its subsidiary XEM Tech Solutions, has officially released the first full version of its mobile application called Pulp Meter on Google Play.

Pulp Meter (Public Utility Private Meter) is a mobile application that lets electricity and water consumers in the Philippines monitor their power consumption anytime in near-real time. PULP Meter is currently available for smartphones running on Android OS.

Using their smartphone’s camera, registered users can take photos of their meters and send these to Pulp Meter’s server. The server sends back the user’s current meter reading and the equivalent estimated amount of the total kilowatt-hours or cubic meters consumed via push notification. The application is free to use for households with only one electric and water meter. Users have the option of checking their meters daily, weekly or monthly. Paying users or those with multiple meters in different locations can register as many meters as they want.

Pulp Meter is the only one of its kind released for the Philippines. It can be used by mobile users anywhere in the country and their estimated bills are based on the current rates of their power supplier as approved and published by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC). It will initially be available for use by utility consumers in Davao City, Cebu City, and Metro Manila.

“Not too many people really give much thought about checking the accuracy of their meter readings against their actual usage," said Xavier Eric B. Manalastas, President and CEO of Next BPO Solutions.

Lawyer Teodoro C. Pascua, Undersecretary for the Consumer Protection Group of the Department of Trade and Industry, said, “This mobile application indeed protects our power consumers from paying more than they should because of erroneous billings caused by erroneous meter readings."

“Consumers can now validate their meter readings. Not only that, it will help people conserve energy as they will now be able to track their usage regularly,” Pascua said.

Other than helping electricity consumers, Pulp Meter is also designed to provide employment for those in the marginalized sector of society.

“We removed the automation option on the back-end by not using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software," Manalastas said.

Instead of using OCR technologies, Pulp Meter is supported by Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) and Out of School Youths (OSYs) hired as data encoders. To support the system’s back-end, Next BPO Solutions hires Deaf and Mute and OSYs who are especially trained to identify the approved meters for use all over the country and to encode the data they read from the pictures sent by the users. This does not only provide them with gainful employment but it also prepares them for possible growth within the IT-BPM industry.

“The development and release of a world-class mobile app like PULP Meter is another milestone for the ICT industry here in Davao City. It is another testimony of the caliber of talents we have here in the city, proof that we can also compete globally," said lawyer Sam Matunog, President of ICT Davao, Inc. (IDI).

The development team of PULP Meter is now already working on the IoS version so that iPhone users can also download the application from Apple Store. Additional features are also being added such as Online Payment Options. Pulp Meter is also being eyed to be released for other countries in Asia. (PR)