Enterprise Mobility Solution on Azure, enables real-time water consumption monitoring for Utilities & Consumers
Based in Boulder, Colorado in the USA, WaterMeterCo is an independent designer and manufacturer of Automatic Meter Reading/ Infrastructure (AMR/ AMI). Its metering solution provides water, gas and electric utilities with advanced data analytics solutions. It belonged to an industry of water meter OEMs who also provided metering solutions to other Utilities. Without the lack of a smart metering system, there existed certain challenges in providing the best possible solutions. WaterMeterCo’s vision and objective was to offer products and solutions ‘Beyond AMR’. But an age-old system of manufacturing water meters affected multiple aspects of water consumption and billing. Here they are-
The water meter manufacturers were unable to capture, store and visualize data from 500,000+ local Utilities of varying sizes. Even its customers i.e. the Utilities were unable to afford building private wireless networks or data centres filled with servers and sophisticated analytical software. There needed to be a scalable and robust data management system which would capture, store and manage billions of data records appearing every hour from water meters. The water meters generated data at intervals of every 5 minutes and no system was in place to store that data. It required a system to store current data generated at various intervals and which could be scaled up to handle more devices than present. This solution would display water consumption data on mobile devices, i.e. in limited space and which did not compromise the authenticity of data.
Unable to generate leverage revenue from over consumption
The water meter OEMs and their customers were unable to detect intermittent water tampering, water theft and water consumption patterns. The customers had no way of knowing how their water bill was calculated or whether it was even accurate. They did not receive any alerts, messages or notifications in case of zero, less, over usage or other anomalies along the way. There were several opportunities of cost reduction in water bills by making users aware of their usage patterns. These opportunities could influence their future water consumption by leveraging peak and off-peak periods. Water shortages or droughts could be managed well by controlling overconsumption of water.
Lack of data visibility
The OEMs including WaterMeterCo faced a lack of a transparent system which pulled and provided water consumption data. The downstream Utilities and consumers remained unaware of water consumption patterns and subsequent billing. They could not conduct budgeting for their water consumption. There existed no way of knowing whether the water consumption was zero, low or high during various parts of the day. If any household were to overconsume water, it could have been fined. But the lack of a competent solution resulted in low transparency in sharing data with stakeholders. It required a real-time data capturing, monitoring and sharing system which would analyse graphs and charts displaying water consumption patterns.
The Solution: Mobile application with real-time access for utilities and users
The OEMs of water meters faced a challenge with communication and flow of data. They needed to manipulate its behaviour. They needed the Utilities and their customers to receive real-time information on consumption behaviour and water leaks. It was evident, a smart water meter solution combining AMR and AMI was to be developed. WaterMeterCo initiated this process. It was well accepted and put to implementation. The other OEMs soon followed the path and several Utilities were onboarded with this two-way communicating solution.
For WaterMeterCo, a Mobile Application was developed. This Apache Cordova Hybrid Application using Microsoft Azure Cloud Platform has now connected 500,000+ water meters in Long Beach, California. It crunches 180 GB data and 250 million transactions per year. By logging into the App, the utilities and users can monitor their supply and usage. The usage charts display charts and graphs of consumption patterns and determine the accuracy of billing. Automated billing is implemented and errors in billing corrections are reduced.
The use of these radio frequency based smart water meter solution has resulted in changing behaviour of water consumption in the localities. In a local McDonald’s café, overconsumption of water was observed compared to the ideal amount. They were then fined for the same.
This Enterprise Mobility Solution orchestrates intelligent actions for utilities and its customers by identifying the peak usage periods, seasonal, aggregated and annual usage of water. It prompts improved decision making for utilities and users. Together, they are able to reduce the bill amounts by 30% and save billions of gallons of water every year.
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