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AMR vs. AMI: What’s the Difference?

Automated meter reading (AMR) and advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) are two acronyms used often in the water industry. As often as they’re used, they’re sometimes confused. Discover the meanings behind these acronyms, including what the technologies are and how they are used within the water metering industry.

Automated Meter Reading (AMR)

Automated meter reading is the communication technology water utilities use to automatically collect water consumption and status data from water meters. AMR systems can be either walk-by or drive-by. An endpoint is connected to the meter’s encoder register. The endpoint captures water flow and alarm data which is collected by utility personnel by walking or driving by with a data receiver in proximity to the device. 

After collection, the meter data is transferred to a database where utilities can monitor and analyze usage, troubleshoot issues and bill customers based on actual consumption, rather than predictions that were often required with bi-monthly or quarterly manual reads.

Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)

Advanced metering infrastructure is an integrated system of water meters, communication networks and data management systems that enables two-way communication between meter endpoints and utilities. Unlike AMR, AMI doesn’t require utility personnel to collect the data. Instead, the system automatically transmits the data directly to the utility at predetermined intervals.

Meter data is sent to utilities via a fixed network. The utility can use the data to improve operational efficiencies and sustainability by effectively monitoring water usage and system efficiency, detecting malfunctions and recognizing irregularities.

With a fixed network, utilities work with specific vendors to get their infrastructure and technologies up and running. And today, existing cellular networks, designed to minimize downtime, can be used to make sure meter data is collected securely and without interruption.

Understanding Smart Water Solutions

Smart water solutions that incorporate AMI are no longer a concept of the future. Utilities across the country are implementing smart water metering technologies to streamline processes and improve water preservation. These solutions feature a network of smart water meters and intelligent infrastructure that provide continuous and historical data to improve system intelligence, visibility, automation and control. Smart water solutions are credited with:

  • Enhancing meter reading efficiency
  • Assuring long-term meter accuracy
  • Improving customer service processes
  • Decreasing non-revenue water
  • Streamlining billing processes
  • Supporting security to deter tampering

A common misconception is that smart water solutions are only available for utilities with a certain population size or that dedicated utility resources are required to maintain an AMI network after it is deployed, but neither of these statements are true. Smart water solutions using existing cellular networks are available for utilities of all sizes and locations. There are many reasons why cellular AMI smart water solutions may be right for your utility. Learn more about smart water or discuss your goals with one of our solution experts.

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