New Systems More Accurate, Reliable, and Timely
Public Works Director Alfred H. Foxx announced that DPW is moving forward to modernize its aging water metering system for more than 400,000 accounts in Baltimore City and Baltimore County. The new Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) and Automated Meter Reading (AMR) system for Baltimore City and Baltimore County will make meter reading more reliable, accurate, and timely.
Both AMI and AMR consist of 3 basic components: (1) a meter with a small radio transmitter; (2) data collectors that automatically read the meters; and (3) a data repository/computer system that interfaces with the billing system. The difference between AMI and AMR is the manner in which automated meter reading is collected and transmitted to the billing system. AMI transmits data through a radio-based fixed network of collectors. AMR transmits through a vehicular radio-based network.
This new system will provide a catalyst for significant improvements in efficiency and customer service for the City and the County water utility, including:
- Greater Meter Reading and Billing Accuracy: Accurate meter readings will be obtained without the possibility of manual read errors.
- Elimination of Estimated Bills: Meter readings will be able to be consistently obtained, even under conditions that have typically prevented meter reading in the past, like meter inaccessibility due to weather events (snow, ice, etc) or meter vault access obstructions (vehicles, animals, etc.).
- Enhanced Customer Service: Detailed and timely knowledge of a citizen’s past usage improves customer support and service representatives’ ability to assist the customer in understanding his/her bill and to quickly resolve questions and issues.
- Reduced Water Loss: With continuous monitoring, leaks and lost water can be quickly detected and addressed.
- Enhanced Operational Efficiencies: Less time and manpower will be spent performing field checks of meters and billing adjustments.
“DPW is extremely excited to begin the process of revamping the metering infrastructure and meter reading system with these new technologies,” said Director Foxx. “Accuracy, reliability, and excellent customer service require that we look to the future and leave early-20th century technology in the past.”
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake praised the contract award by stating, “This is a crucial step in the right direction toward bringing reliability and efficiency to our water billing system. Baltimore City is home to so many hardworking families and I am determined to have a better system for them.”
AMI is scheduled to be fully operational in Baltimore City in 2016, and AMI/AMR is scheduled to be fully operational in Baltimore County in 2017.
The $83.5 million AMI/R system contract was awarded to Itron, Inc., an industry leader in designing, manufacturing, marketing, installing, and servicing systems and fixed communication networks for automatic and electronic meter reading.