Smartening up: User experience with smart water metering infrastructure in an African City.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Worldwide, smart metering is becoming increasingly prevalent in the utility sector, sometimes as part of extensive smart grid projects or within strategies aimed at the digital transformation of utilities. In the water sector, smart water metering infrastructure has been positioned to alleviate key water management and water access challenges. To date, there has been little empirical investigation into how it is deployed, implemented and experienced by end-users in urban Global South contexts. This study uses a socio-technical lens to address this evidence gap with a mixed-method empirical case study from urban Ghana. Results show smart meters as a utility-centric socio-technical infrastructure, with the water utility having designed the customer out of its current rollout approach. The utility's approach is an incremental one that is responsive to the existing context yet provides limited upgrades and impacts to existing systems and actors. We demonstrate how smart meters are much more than neutral, often shaped through everyday realities but have also become new junctions of friction, mistrust and scepticism between the utility and users. In exploring these issues, we raise questions about the smart metering agenda and related digital transformation policies of utilities, highlighting directions towards more customer-centric design and implementation in the design and deployment of digital water infrastructure.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101478
JournalUtilities Policy
Early online date28 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2023


  • Customers
  • Smart grid
  • Smart metering
  • Utility
  • Water infrastructure

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Sustainable Consumption Institute


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