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 US water utilities surveyIn a snapshot view of water utilities in the US, a recent survey found that nine out of 10 water utilities have a smart water plan with many intending to install smart meters two years from now.

The survey of 75 water utilities from across the US found that while many respondents are still in the planning/investigation stage (35%) for smart water systems, most (54%) are undertaking at least some smart water efforts, including pilot programs.

Respondents viewed the most important technologies for smart water systems as smart meters (76%), data and analytics (69%), and meter data management systems (55%), according to the research conducted by Zpryme and the Smart Water Summit from August to September 2014.

AMI vs AMR

Most respondents had some sort of advanced metering, including advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) meters (24%) and automated meter reading (AMR) meters (49%). 

While not as many utilities have deployed AMI, more utilities are planning to deploy AMI (58%) than AMR. The time horizons for these deployments vary, but many are planning for deployments that are more than 24 months out (32%).

However, although the basic benefits of smart water systems are still important, such as automating meter reads (36%), water utilities are finding more advanced benefits such as analytics-based decision making (35%).

Obstacles to smart water networks

The main hindrance to adopting AMI/AMR systems was cited as cost (78%) as well as concerns over data collection (36%) and communication systems (36%).

Many of the respondents also have technology skill gaps in their workforce.

The survey found that these utilities however were not planning to hire technology staff in the next year, creating opportunities to train existing staff or to work more with third-party providers that can provide technology expertise.

Managing meter data

Another unexploited area is meter data management systems (MDMS) with 38% yet to install one, but 43% have plans to install one, are underway with installation or have completed their installations.