New Trends May Shape Water Utility Industry

Nov. 18, 2016
Badger Meter predicts trend based on work with utilities across U.S.

Badger Meter shared four key trends predicted to shape the water utility industry in 2017. The trends are based on the company’s experience working with thousands of water utilities across the U.S.

“In 2016, we saw advancements in cellular technology, data analytics, and managed solutions that can help utility managers more effectively and efficiently understand, monitor and manage their operations. We expect these trends to become even more significant for water utilities in 2017,” said John Fillinger, director of utility marketing at Badger Meter. “We also predict an increased focus on the water meter itself, because the key to optimizing a software analytics platform is obtaining the most accurate and reliable usage data possible.”

Four key water themes predicted to shape 2017 are:

  1. Growth in cellular communications. Compared to traditional Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) systems, cellular-based communications offer substantially greater ease in deployment and scalability. Cellular endpoints rely on existing cellular networks, thereby eliminating the need for traditional network infrastructure, such as gateways. Because of their flexibility, cellular endpoints can be deployed rapidly, from targeted implementations for large commercial customers and hard-to-read locations to full-scale rollouts. Badger Meter was the first major meter manufacturer to introduce cellular endpoints to the market. Since launching its ORION Cellular endpoint in 2014 as part of its BEACON Advanced Metering Analytics (AMA) managed solution, the demand for this technology has far exceeded expectations. 
  2. Interest in managed solutions. Along with the increase in cellular technology is an evolution to a managed systems approach to data management. Traditionally, utilities implemented and managed their own networks, which for many provided operational challenges in the areas of communications infrastructure management and the IT resources needed for software and hardware support. In the provider-managed cloud-based systems approach, the provider installs and maintains the operation of the network, leaving the utility responsible only for the meters and endpoints. The software applications are hosted by the solutions provider, enabling utility staff to do what it does best—manage the utility’s operations. The Badger Meter BEACON AMA managed solution is hosted off-site on the largest global cloud hosting service, leaving critical metering data less susceptible to natural disasters. All that is needed to access the software is a personal computer and browser. 
  3. Acceptance of software as a service (SaaS). The transition to software as a service is a trend that is impacting virtually every industry, including municipal water. Many utilities are finding cloud-computing to be a viable alternative to investing money and staff time in maintaining and updating their own servers and operating software. Cloud-based platforms use open-source software that is not reliant on any one vendor. They are subscription based, with utilities paying only for the number of endpoints deployed. Cloud-based software is quick to deploy, does not require any hardware purchases, includes automatic software updates and can be scaled up or down as needed. 
  4. Recognizing the importance of the meter. Today’s software is only as good as the data it relies on, and that’s where the quality of the water meter comes in. While some may consider water meters to be a commodity, investing in highly accurate, long-lasting meters adds value to the total metering system, driving revenues and helping to ensure the reliability the decision-making information provided by the metering software. The nutating disc technology used in all Badger Meter Recordall positive displacement disc meters consistently indicated higher accuracies at the lowest flow rates compared to other meter types in a 2010 study by the Water Research Foundation. As confirmed by the study, the nutating disc technology incorporated in Recordall positive displacement meters provides a solution that can drive additional revenue and provide the lowest cost of ownership.

Source: Badger Meter

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