By Nissan Barkat

The water sector in Israel has been significantly transformed since the adoption of AMI (formerly AMR) by a number of utilities.

After a decade of intense development, adaptation, trials and installations, Israel can be ranked as a world leader for implementation of AMI in the water sector, preceded only by the US.

These are the figures for AMI installations in the Israeli water sector:

  • Close to 500,000 installations of AMI water meters all over the country
  • During 2009 more than 100,000 meters were connected to automatic meter transmission systems
  • 20 percent of the water meters installed are metered automatically
  • Seven cities (with from 70,000 connections to 10,000 connections) are being metered automatically
  • AMI management systems are installed in more than 300 villages and rural settlements
  • All installations are RF fixed area configurations; which enable the utility to utilize all the benefits of the automatic reading system
  • According to water experts’ forecasts, within 5-8 years more than half of the meters will be read automatically.

This article aims to analyze the reason for such a small country becoming a leader in the industry in the AMR/I implementation, exceeding other developed countries such as Germany, France, Japan, etc.

Water stressed territory
Since the establishment of the state, Israel has been aware of the lack of water. This awareness for water shortage has only now reached territories like Australia and the U.K.

During the summer of 2009 the marginal price for water in Israel sky rocketed to over $8 per m3. In addition during the last 5 years the water sector has suffered from three sequential drought years, which has affected the entire water balance.

The environmental changes have brought about a significant need for new technologies aimed at reduction in water loss, better management of the water sector and the other benefits offered by an AMI system.

Readiness for new technologies
During the last decade Israel has been a cradle for the development and implementation of new technologies. This entrepreneur’s environment is very common within large sectors. Although the water sector is still very conservative, the new spirit has managed to penetrate into the sector and the atmosphere has changed from one of suspicion to one of acceptance.

Installation
All domestic meters in Israel are installed above ground. This is much easier for installation of automatic reading systems. The difficulty of installing in-depth meter installations like pit sets and boundaries is eliminated and transmission is more efficient and over longer distances.

Unity
The Israeli market is dominated by one brand and one standard AMI configuration. During the last decade more than 90 percent of the installations came from one source. Although competition was reduced, the unified solution has contributed to ease the monitoring of the installed AMI systems.

Governmental assistance
At the beginning the Israeli water authority wasn’t in favor of AMR and AMI systems being implemented in the utilities. Subsequently, after proving to be efficient, mainly in the reduction of non revenue water, resources have been dedicated to utilities who decided to install such systems.

Moving forward on the learning curve

After so many installations and gaining much experience, the development and adaptation has improved significantly the effectiveness of the system, at both hardware and software levels.

Fixed area network as the preferred solution
The fixed area network installation very rapidly convinced the utilities of the benefits of the system. The monitoring of leakages, indication on theft, etc. has proven to be much more important than the automatic reading itself.

New configurations – Fly By
Recently a new configuration has been developed named Fly By, which uses a small, remote controlled plane to retrieve meter readings and transmit them to the control center (gateway) for further data processing.

The idea behind this new technology is to enable the utility to retrieve readings in remote places or unfriendly neighborhoods where the installation of fixed area network would be very expensive.

These parameters were the major driving forces which have enabled the Israeli water metering sector to be a pioneer in comparison to other territories throughout the world. The experience gained in the market in AMI implementation is unprecedented and can be compared only to the U.S. experience.