US: Nebraska city modernises utility billing structure

Nebraska city modernises utility billing
Customers will have 24 hour access to their utility bills through an online portal

In the US, the city of Grand Island in Nebraska will implement a new utility billing system supplied by Advance Utility Services from the beginning of April in a bid to improve customer service.

The new system will replace a 37-year-old billing and information system and will be used for collection of electric, water and sanitary sewer services.

Advanced Utility Services, a Canadian provider of customer information and billing services to utilities and municipalities, will supply core modules for cash processing, billing, reporting and collections that support revenue management activities designed to provide customer service.

The system also features an online personal customer portal enabling customers to pay their utility bills over the internet as well as an automated phone system through which customers can make payments.

Municipality invests in cyber security

Meanwhile, the Nebraska Municipal Power Pool (NMPP Energy), a member-owned organisation that provides electric power, natural gas and utility-related services to 200 members across six Midwestern and mountain states across the US, has adopted the cyber security solution N-Sentinal.

NMPP Energy has implemented the N-Sentinel utility community cyber monitoring solution, produced by US company N-Dimension, which will provide alerts and reporting allowing the municipal company enhanced visibility to secure its services.

The solution also provides insights into cyber security threats affecting similar utilities, assisting them to proactively prevent attack or risk of attack.

The early-warning system monitors network traffic as it uses cloud-based intelligent threat analysis and real-time alerts to indentify threats. It classifies threats according to its potential impact, and priortises them, helping NMPP act swiftly upon the urgent risks first.

NNMP has extended its N-Sentinal to cover its core network as well as its SCADA network.

Commenting on an initial N-Sentinal trial employed by NNMP, Bob Selzer, director of Retail Utility services said: “I was surprised and concerned to see the high number and severity of threats hitting our network on a daily basis.

“I knew right away we had work to do to improve our security posture and armed with the detailed information from N-Sentinel plus guidance from N-Dimension’s team of security experts, we have made significant improvements.

Mr Selzer added: “Utilities need to face the fact that threats are coming fast and furious – whether or not they’re ready.”

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