IWA Publishing

Sound recording to characterize outdoor tap water use events

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Obtaining disaggregated water use at the home typically involves expensive smart metering. In this study, water use events at the outdoor tap were captured using recorded sound. Outdoor taps at 10 homes were fitted with small-sized microphones and digital sound recorders. Sound files recorded over a 1-month period were used in the analysis. In the preliminary analysis, a human operator browsed through the sound recordings, picking out tap use events based on visually recognizable waveform and spectrogram features, then audibly verified each event identified before labeling. The performance of the corresponding automatic detection algorithm was reasonable, showing that water use events can be detected at precision and recall rates of at least 80% under suitable conditions. The results also showed that the technique is less suitable where the drop in pressure during peak demand periods results in significant reduction in the tap flowrate. Indirect flow sensing approaches are attractive for investigating water use event timing, because of the relatively lower cost when compared to conventional or smart water meters. Plumbing changes are not required as the recorder can be mounted on any exposed pipe section near the fixture of interest.

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