Development of a GPRS Internet Based Data Management System for Effective Dam Operation in Zimbabwe
Tinashe Nyabako, Emmanuel Manzungu

Efficient and effective management of dams depends on a data management system that facilitates easy collection, entry, storage, retrieval and analysis of data. In Zimbabwe, the national water authority (ZINWA) and sub-catchment councils use a paper-based system where data is logged onto sheets and transported to a receiving station where data processing is in theory undertaken. The system has been observed to result in inordinately long time lag between data collection, analysis and information dissemination, uses too much space, and is less amenable to executing data analysis that is suitable for different users. A study was undertaken to develop a data management system that would address these problems. The General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) was used as the general data transmission platform, using a GPRS enabled cellular phone as medium for data entry, and the internet for data storage, display and interaction. Data from Lake Chivero in the Manyame catchment, one of water sources for Harare, Zimbabwe‘s capital city, was used to test the designed water management system. The water management system that was developed was demonstrated to improve functional efficiency (reduced time lag and error) by expediting data entry and analysis in real time, and was cost effective when compared to alternatives such as a satellite-based system. The system can be used as a replacement for the inefficient paper-based system.

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