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Smart Water 101: What You Need to Know

In an age where virtually everything is “smart,” it shouldn’t come as a surprise that water systems can be, too. Especially as utilities seek out solutions to support conservation goals by addressing non-revenue water, water loss and scarcity, aging infrastructure and population growth concerns. When every drop counts more than ever, it’s clear to see why the municipal water industry has undergone a pivotal transformation to implement smart solutions that are revolutionizing water systems.

What Is Smart Water?

Smart water is an industry term which refers to a network of smart water meters and intelligent infrastructure deployed as part of an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) system. It provides continuous and historical data, while improving system intelligence, visibility, automation and control to help water utilities optimize all areas of their water network.

A common misconception is that smart water metering systems are only suitable for cities of a certain size or utilities that currently utilize a cellular-based infrastructure. This isn’t true. Smart water solutions are available for utilities of all types, regardless of population, location or existing infrastructure.

How Does a Smart Water Metering System Work?

Smart water metering systems are comprised of meters, endpoints, a data collection system and system management. Water meters measure water flow 24/7. The accompanying endpoints collect the flow data that is securely transmitted to the data collection system at routine intervals. For example, our ORION® Cellular endpoint automatically broadcasts 15-minute interval data on a continuous schedule, up to four times per workday.

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Within the smart data collection system, utilities can monitor their network and diagnose areas of pressure loss and leaks to quickly address issues and bill customers more accurately. This is especially beneficial for utilities that were previously limited to monthly or quarterly meter reads when issues could not always be identified or addressed as urgently as they should be to prevent greater damage or expense. Additionally, many utilities with limited read schedules rely on water estimations to bill customers. Now with accurate data coming in every day, utilities can make sure bills are based on actual usage.

With system management, such as BEACON® Advanced Metering Analytics and our EyeOnWater® consumer engagement tool, utilities and utility customers have access to water usage. Individuals can view and manage usage through easy-to-understand graphs and alerts, which:

  • Improve the customer service process by having accurate, real-time data on hand when a customer question or concern comes in
  • Encourage customers to be more responsible with their water usage by providing data on a yearly, monthly, daily or hourly basis
  • Help utilities and customers identify areas of concern, including non-revenue water sources such as leaks or pressure loss
 

Utilities Choose Smart Water for These Key Benefits

Utilities across the country are transitioning to smart water solutions to improve and preserve operational efficiency and effectiveness. Smart water metering systems help decrease non-revenue water by capturing and sharing water consumption data more frequently, monitoring rate of flow, identifying reverse flows and sending alerts at the first sign of a problem.

Additionally, smart water meters capture additional flow through their extended low flow accuracy. Available in both mechanical and electronic versions, smart meter solutions help build the foundation for any smart water system. Here are a few key reasons utilities are making the switch:

  • Monitor infrastructure:

    Smart water metering systems allow utilities to see where pipes, meters, valves, endpoints and other important fixtures are located. In turn, this helps the utility accurately monitor its infrastructure health, down to each component. Utilities can pinpoint problems, such as leaks or obstructions, and identify exactly where to look to fix the problem without halting service for an extended period or wasting manpower manually searching for the issue.
  • Prioritize usage:

    A utility cannot manage what it does not measure. With a smart water metering system, utilities know exactly how much water is being consumed with impressive accuracy. This enables utilities to spot non-revenue water causes, such as failed or aging equipment, cracks, leaks and even tampering.
  • Improved customer service:

    Most utilities want to improve customer service processes. With a smart water metering system, utilities benefit from frequent data collection, which provides a more detailed visual into customer patterns and usage. Should a customer question or complaint arise, utilities have access to granular data that can pinpoint spikes or interruptions in usage that help customers identify leaks in their home.
 

Smart Water Is Badger Meter

As a leader in smart water metering solutions, our team at Badger Meter continually invents and innovates to provide utilities with smart water solutions that make a difference. Here are the four key facets behind our smart water solutions:  

  • AMI without the infrastructure:

    Utilities shouldn’t have to be tied down to a vendor or technology just because it utilizes a private infrastructure. Through cellular Network as a Service (NaaS) technology, utilities can achieve AMI without the need for infrastructure. Cellular NaaS solutions are a leading selection for utilities because they are safe, secure and hassle-free if the utility wants to expand or upgrade in the future. Not to mention, cellular solutions provide access to the information utilities want with 24/7 monitoring.
  • Widest range of metering solutions:

    Badger Meter believes that choice matters, which is why we offer the widest range of metering solutions. It empowers utilities to find solutions that best fit their unique processes—and not settle for one solution based on what an outside vendor is offering. With smart water solutions, utilities are in control.
  • Future-proof technology:

    Looking ahead and planning for the future is a focus of smart water. Our solutions are designed to be interoperable with other systems that utilities may add down the road. And every system is automatically updated to ensure it keeps up with technological advancements.
  • Robust and resilient AMI:

    A leading concern utilities have as they consider solutions is resiliency. If a utility’s infrastructure goes down due to a bad storm or natural disaster, it can take days—or even weeks—to fully realize the damage and get water service up and running. But with a smart water metering solution, cellular service is one of the first things restored because a working cellular network is priority for emergency response teams. Once cellular service is up and running, so is the utility’s water system.
 

Smart Water Solutions Start at Badger Meter

Thinking of transitioning to a smart water metering system? Tell us what your utility is hoping to achieve, and we’ll help you build a smart water solution that’s perfectly fit to your city, no matter its size or location. Badger Meter offers the widest range of metering solutions because we believe in providing smart water solutions for any and every municipality. Learn more about our smart water offerings and then reach out to one of our experts to start discussing how to make it a reality. Becoming smarter starts with a simple, stress-free conversation.