The city of Santa Fe has chosen Badger Meter’s Beacon smart water meter system for full installation across all of it water meter endpoints, including both residential and commercial customers.
The foundation for the project is a cellular-enabled smart meter, which can be installed and immediately used for the utility’s smart water network applications. The contract calls for about 35,000 smart meters to be installed, making it the single largest implementation of cellular machine-to-machine technology in the water utility sector worldwide, according to IHS.
By 2020 about 600 thousand cellular-enabled smart water meters will be shipped to the North American market annually, the analyst firm says.
According to the IHS publication, The Smart Water Meter Intelligence Service, in the past five years, telecom providers in North America have been altering their business plans to target critical infrastructure. In aligning with the smart grid, smart utility and smart cities movements, telecom providers have dramatically lowered rates, while investing in partnerships with various technology vendors targeting these industries. While market development for cellular adoption in utilities has occurred, it has been primarily in backhaul applications, whereby the cellular modem is essentially the last leg of a mainly utility-owned network, and not in the actual smart meters. So far projects of this scale have only been built for electric utilities, whereby devices are inductively powered and therefore do not have battery life concerns.
IHS anticipates a strong market for cellular-enabled smart meters in the coming years for several reasons. First, cellular smart water meters are essentially plug-and-play devices that require no additional network infrastructure, and the IT network communications elements used in the water meters can also be used for power plants and other utilities. In addition, smart meters have shorter lifetime expectancies than traditional meters, leading to faster replacement cycles. Finally, advances in battery management technology are making the investment in cellular smart water meters easier to justify.
The app, available for customers of water utilities that have implemented the BEACON Advanced Metering Analytics (AMA) system, provides direct access to water consumption data.