SMART water metering and networks
Water utilities need to combat the dual challenge of water scarcity and rising demand. Rainfall, driven by climate change, is becoming less reliable, making it harder to manage water as a resource for the long term. At the same time demand is forecast to grow by 800 million litres per day by 2020. In the UK these problems are exacerbated by an infrastructure that was largely built during the Victorian era; costly to maintain and prone to leakages.
Smart water metering can play a big part in meeting these challenges, in particular the identification and reduction of leaks in peoples’ properties. Smart water meters give much greater visibility of the amount of water used by each household, and how this varies over time. For example, if smart water data indicates a continuous flow of water at night for a particular property, this is a clear warning sign of a potential leak. Identifying and fixing such problems quickly can help save water and minimise any damage to peoples’ homes.
Our smart water metering trial with Thames Water for around 1,600 homes across two District Metered Areas (DMAs) in the Reading area is helping to identify leaks through the provision of timely data on water consumption.
Successful identification of potential leaks depends on the ability to connect to meters and to reliably provide data over time. However, water meters are often located in places that some communications technologies find hard to reach, including underground pits beneath cast iron lids. It’s essential to choose a technology that connects meters wherever they are, then works all the time. With this in mind, our trial with Thames Water was also intended to assess the suitability of long-range radio (LRR) to connect to smart water meters.
The early results of the trial have been highly encouraging, achieving first-time connection of communications with nearly all meters using LRR alone.
“Based on the current trial with SmartReach in Reading, we believe that long-range radio offers a simple, quick, unobtrusive and efficient means of building a Smart Water Meter network”
– Dr Piers Clark, Commercial Director at Thames Water
If extended to cover meters and monitoring equipment across the network, then reliable, real-time communications can support improved network management, leak detection, reduced costs and improved customer service. This will help utilities to work with customers to save water, and reduce CAPEX as well as cutting operational costs through targeting maintenance crews more precisely.