Grid intelligence: Leaking money


It has become something of a buzz-word and, with recent advancements in AMI technology from companies such as Utility Systems, it is not difficult to see the attraction. AMI has become the appropriate solution to what is now a global water crisis.

There has been a shift in the dynamics of water management over the last ten years, from a purely mechanical age to one of information technology advancements. The age of manual metering and leak detection is over and access to information in near real time is upon us. The ability to remotely control, configure and manage water management devices on a fixed network, located anywhere, via the cloud or over a local private network is now a reality, and forward thinking water service providers are taking advantage of that.

Next generation technology will help reduce the amount of potable water lost due to leaking infrastructure which, according to the World Bank, can be as high as 60%. The situation is dire at a time when water scarcity is accelerating, with latest estimations revealing that one in six people globally has no access to potable water.

The (water) pressure is on!

Utility Systems, a MICROmega Group Company located in South Africa, has released the first commercially available near real time water management system. This cutting-edge technology assists in addressing the worldwide water emergency.

The utiliMeter is an AMI-enabled water management device. When coupled to any of a number of traditional water meters, it can also operate as a Standard Transfer Specification (STS) approved smart prepaid water metering solution. [quote]

The utiliMeter addresses the need for data that allows rapid response to leaks, tamper and other exceptions. It has tremendous potential to augment water conservation programmes, such as short-term drought consumption reduction or planning for long-term water scarcity. This is achieved by providing consumers with a mobile application, the utiliApp, which gives access to profile data, valve management and token load functionality. Service providers access a portal (utiliPort) for management, data retrieval and analysis and configuration of water management devices. An in-field data collection app with smart routing (utiliRead), and field service app (utiliPro) which allows for management and configuration of devices in the field, make up the rest of the solution.

The utiliMeter allows for prepaid, postpaid, flat rate and flow limitation water management. Importantly, data collected is comprehensive, enabling both water service providers and consumers to better understand their water consumption levels and patterns, enabling them to prepare for the future. Access to emergency water in the case of a fire for example, can be configured into the devices based on the water service provider’s specifications.

The Utility Systems prepaid water metering system is not proprietary token or card-based, but is rather based on an open architecture system complying with IEC standards used in over 90 countries worldwide. A major benefit associated with the implementation of this STS prepayment system is that consumers have a choice of vending options. These options include Internet-based vending, points of sale vending, cell phone/SMS-based vending or banking hall based vending. Since STS is an open architecture system, it is even possible to vend tokens through STS electricity vending systems so long as they are set up to also vend water tokens. The consumer is put first with this system and convenience is assured.

Water rationing for drought relief is an unpleasant scenario for water service providers, but is possible through the utiliMeter. The product takes the responsibility away from the consumer and places it on the service provider who can configure the amount of water consumers have available to them, or, limit water availability to specific hours.

Worldwide it has been recognized that the payback period on the initial capital investment in advanced metering infrastructure devices is extremely quick, especially with the addition of the Utility Systems’ replaceable battery pack, which extends the product lifespan exponentially. With this being said, the question that really needs to be asked is: “can water service providers afford not to take these measures?” MI

Utility Systems is an industry leader in the field of remote communicating electronic water valves and STS prepayment devices. Established in 2001, the company offers cutting-edge smart digital technology for water metering and has a global customer base. Utility Systems has built more than a million water management devices and is in the ideal position to offer the market the latest in next generation products. For more information on this and other Utility Systems solutions, visit