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The Town approved the conversion of a portion of its existing drive-by (AMR) system to a fixed and real-time reading network, referred to as Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), in July of 2018 following years of consideration, analysis, and planning. In the initial phase, a portion of the Town’s meters will be optimized and the billing software will be integrated, so the entire process, from the meter to the bill, will be tested and verified prior to Town-wide installation. The Town will utilize existing Itron transmitters and manage the data through Choice Connect AMI Network System, thereby expanding the benefits of its existing metering equipment. The initial phase is expected to be completed by October 2021.
The enhancement of existing equipment will provide 720 reads during each billing cycle rather than 1 read every 30 days as is currently designed. This detailed usage will enable the Town to automate its meter reading process, provide improved customer service through data access, reduce leaks to promote resource conservation, and improve Utility operational efficiencies by capturing real-time meter reading data.
The Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) system is made up of several “smart” components that communicate using wireless and radio frequency technology. Inside the meter box, a small radio is connected to the water meter that records and transmits a reading on hourly intervals to a collector. These data transmissions last only several milliseconds and are smaller data size than text. A collector will be mounted on top of the Town’s water tanks. The collectors store all the reads and sends batch uploads twice daily to the software accessible at Town Hall.
The meters use wireless radio frequencies, similar to wireless Internet and cable TV, to send and receive information to and from the Town’s Utility and Billing staff. The meters and communication system are regulated to meet all federal communications, safety standards and codes. There is no personal identifying information captured or transmitted by the meter.
The meter will measure customer usage the same as before the conversion from AMR to AMI. Improvements will be realized in how the meter reading data is captured as well as alerts and notifications such as stopped meter, customer leak detection, and utility distribution system leak detection
The project is being managed for the Town by MeterSYS, a Raleigh-based advanced metering consulting firm, specializing in advanced metering technologies. MeterSYS will be responsible for overall management of the project, field meter box improvements, software installation, and training along with the manufacturer Itron and their AMI certified technician, United Systems and Software. Field personnel working on the project will carry proper identification and have successfully completed a background check. Field personnel will not need to enter residential property, nor will they be asking for any form of payment from customers.
The work being done will not disrupt customer’s water service and will take less than 15 minutes to complete enhancements at each service location.