In the US, Baltimore City’s Department of Public Works (DPW) launched a new payment system for water bills this week using quick response (QR) codes.
Customers are able to download the QR app on a smart phone or tablet, scan the code on the water bill and connect to the city’s online payment website, reports Baltimore City Paper.
The new technology was unveiled this week in a bid to make DPW a more “customer-focused agency”, said Rudolph S Chow, director at DPW, in a statement.
Updating water meters
The launch follows DPW announcing a US$8.4 million contract with Itineris earlier this month to provide new software and computer networking to connect approximately US$83.5 million worth of new Itron electronic water meters.
The advanced metering technology will be installed over the next three years.
Commenting on the deployment, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a statement: “Today, we took an important step to upgrade technology that has been in place since the 1970s.
“The new system will be the brains behind BaltiMeter [the name for the Itron meter plus Itineris software], enabling customers to read their water bills online and have convenient access to more information about their water usage—translating to greater confidence in the metering and billing systems.”
Itron has committed to to install about 410,000 Baltimeters by April 2017, with the city having all its meters in by April 2016.
Monthly service fee
DPW spokesmen say the new system will include a monthly service fee that you will pay regardless of usage.
The exact fee schedule is not yet set, but that it will be in line with the needs of the system to maintain itself and pay back the US$4.5 billion it is borrowing to rebuild.
DPW has long struggled with its water billing system.
A 2012 audit found overbillings of residential customers of at least US$4.2 million according to the Baltimore City Paper report.