Mar 23, 2009

Foster City, Calif., Installs Sensus FlexNet AMI System

City is also initiating a meter replacement program

Foster City, Calif., public works officials have chosen FlexNet by Sensus as their Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) solution.

8,500 customers in the 4.5-sq-mile territory are serviced by one Tower Gateway Basestation (TGB), placed at the center of town. Using this existing city-owned structure and leveraging FlexNet’s powerful wireless transmission capabilities gives the utility a communication system that allows intelligent use of resources with efficiency. Foster City is located in California’s San Francisco Bay Area, and is a densely populated city, with areas of both residential and commercial development.

In addition to the deployment of the FlexNet system, the city is initiating a meter replacement program at the same time, upgrading Sensus TouchRead meters that are reaching the end of their 20-year life cycle. So far, approximately 1,700 meters throughout the service area have been fitted with the FlexNet SmartPoints.

The Sensus FlexNet system operates on an exclusive and FCC-protected primary-use license spectrum, which guarantees the utility to receive data over totally protected airwaves. The utility currently reads and bills water meters bimonthly, but will soon have the ability to move to monthly billing if desired. This move would improve customer service while at the same time improving cash flow.

Ignatius Nelson, Foster City public works superintendent, said initial thoughts were to complete their drive-by meter reading system, but a review of the FlexNet system revealed it would read meters more efficiently while also offering a host of features to enhance customer service, such as prompt leak detection and hourly consumption profiling.

“Once the business case was examined for a fixed-base AMI system, it was obvious that our choice was the Sensus FlexNet system. We believe we are now well positioned to achieve short- and long-term operational and customer service goals and take decisive steps in our conservation efforts,” Nelson said. “Currently, we are focusing on fitting the FlexNet SmartPoints on water meters into the city’s numerous parks to help the Parks Department use water more efficiently and effectively.”

“It’s worthy to note that FlexNet is an AMI solution that presents a solid business case for a smaller deployment like Foster City of under 10,000 meters, as well as massive projects already underway that reach into several million endpoints,” said Doug McCall, director of conservation solutions marketing at Sensus. “Regardless of utility size, the Sensus FlexNet system delivers a wealth of benefits from conservation to enhanced customer service, and we welcome Foster City into the rapidly growing ranks of satisfied Sensus customers.”