smart water

US water utility customer engagement solutions provider WaterSmart launched a new smart water solution to help small US water utilities improve their operations.In a press statement, Robin Gilthorpe, CEO of WaterSmart said the company  “…developed WaterSmart Essential to deliver the perfect communications and analytics solution for smaller utilities.”

Gilthorpe added “…all utilities—not just the largest ones—can now enjoy a range of operational benefits by deepening engagement with customers.”

Water utilities' customer engagement

SmartWater claims its smart water solution ideal for water utilities serving less than 7,500 consumers, provides a collection of analytic tools for utilities’ understanding of customer consumption patterns, meter reading abnormalities and leak detections at customer sites.

SmartWater Essential is said provides  water saving suggestions, and critical system notifications over web, mobile, text, and voice thereby improving utilities’ customer outreach and engagement.

Commenting on functionalities of the new solution, Robyn Mattison, public works director for the city of Ketchum, Idaho. said the "…customer portal has allowed us to better communicate with our customers about all the work we do to maintain a high quality, reliable source of water.”

According to Seth Cutler, senior industry analyst at global market research company Frost and Sullivan: "There are over 150,000 public water systems in the United States, and while large systems serve 82% of the population, they only account for 8% of all water systems. As a result, 92% of water authorities represent smaller groups of customers.”

Smart water meters

The launch of the solution follows release of a report by ABI Research predicting that smart water technology could see biggest growth in installed base of smart meters in the next five years.

The report released Q4 2015 states that as the global smart meter market for electricity and gas is reaching a degree of maturity, the focus is shifting toward modernising the ageing water distribution network, offering substantial market opportunity for OEMs, utilities and end-users.

The ABI Research study predict the need of utilities’ to efficiently manage limited fresh water in the face of increasing demand due to rapid urbanization will drive growth in the adoption of smart water meters.

Adarsh Krishnan, senior analyst at ABI Research, said: "Smart water meters and data analytics are more critical components for water utilities.

"They can help improve distribution efficiency by reducing leakages and also serve to implement and monitor the effectiveness of water conservation programs.

"The lack of regulatory framework or a government mandate in the water sector has resulted in a lack of shared vision to modernize the water network."

As smart water meters are battery powered devices, choosing the right connectivity solution poses another unique challenge, says the analyst.

Long battery life of more than 10 years and signal propagation to reach meters that are often underground in pavements or driveways are critical to connect meters.

The report also noted that Itron, Landis+Gyr, Kamstrup, Diehl, Sensus and ARAD, among others, offer end-to-end solutions and continue to dominate the vendor landscape.

In regard to connectivity of smart meters, the report predicts the number of wireless WAN connections will surpass wireless mesh connections by as much as 5% in 2021.