THERE IS NO FREE LUNCH
Accounting for the Costs of Non-Traditional Data Collection
Low-cost, high-tech monitoring campaigns for the collection of non-traditional data through local involvement are costly too. True, initial investment costs are low when compared to traditional measurement equipment costs such as automatic and autonomous monitoring stations. However, operational costs still accrue, and these are often non-negligible as we shall discuss here. The easiest way to do this is by example for which we take ball-park numbers from Kyrgyzstan to make the point. The Table below shows more information. Very importantly, it should be noted that the argument remains the same for official off-farm by governmental agencies and unofficial on-farm monitoring by e.g. irrigation communities.
Let us assume that an irrigation community wants to invest in scheme canal water monitoring at 10 locations inside their water user association. Let us further assume that they contemplate the deployment of fixed location traditional sensing devices that monitor dis-charge autonomously at the respective gauging sites at high frequency (i.e. hourly). With an average price tag of USD 500.- per site for these devices and per site construction costs and calibration costs of USD 2’000.- (including hardware for the protection of vandalism), the total bill for installation and acquisition costs would amount to USD 25’000.- in total. For operational costs, including the transfer of data to a database, one can assume roughly USD 150.- per year under standard conditions, including amortization of the sensor equipment. Table 1 shows an overview of the sample costs. Also, they consider buying one propeller (USD 1’000.- for the standard equipment) for the proper calibration of the individual measurement sites.