Software Suite Helps Expand, Improve Meter Data Management

Twenty-first century utilities are facing a daunting variety of challenges, from aging system infrastructure to Non-Revenue Water to more demand for accountability and water conservation. To meet these many challenges, utilities need intelligent data and the means to manage that data.

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Twenty-first century utilities are facing a daunting variety of challenges, from aging system infrastructure to Non-Revenue Water to more demand for accountability and water conservation. To meet these many challenges, utilities need more data – intelligent data. And they need it delivered quickly.

With today's technology, utilities can do much more than basic meter reading or monthly billing. As demonstrated by the availability of high-resolution, 8-digit registration of solid state absolute encoders, technology has made leak detection to a tenth of a gallon possible. The latest metering systems can analyze consumption every quarter of an hour, making it easy not only to track where and when small leaks occur but also to track patterns of customer water consumption. In either case, it allows the utility to be more proactive in addressing a customer's issues.

Intelligent Data Management

The additional functionality provided by today's AMR and AMI systems requires huge amounts of intelligent data. But more than that, these systems require software that makes sense of all that data.

The Neptune Technology Group offers the N_SIGHT™ suite of software products designed to leverage the rich troves of data that AMI makes available to water utilities. Specifically, it leverages the tracking capabilities of the company's E-Coder register (including leak, tamper, and reverse flow detection) and its highly detailed 8-digit registration. In addition to processing the increased amount of data faster, the software suite provides advanced tools to get critical information into the hands of the right personnel.

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Neptune's cloud-based N_SIGHT™ IQ™ allows utilities to store and analyze up to 10 years of detailed consumption data, identifying historic customer usage and comparison trends to better forecast and plan for the long term.

Through intuitive graphical displays and user-friendly navigation, the suite of three software packages helps identify problems to be addressed as well as calculate Non-Revenue Water. A user can assess system health and many key performance metrics – including the status of MIUs and collectors in the field – at a glance, gather and deliver detailed consumption information for better customer service, and enhance revenue while recapturing lost water.

Simplified Migration

From walk-by and mobile AMR, to hybrid mobile and fixed, to full fixed network AMI, Neptune's N_SIGHT R900® host software supports all modes of meter data retrieval. The software package works easily with the company's R900® Gateway fixed network data collectors to gather daily or hourly meter readings and timelier consumption data while maintaining seamless integration with a utility's mobile or handheld reading processes.

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Neptune's N_SIGHT™ R450™ host software leverages the capabilities of the R450™ AMI system. The web-based, thin-client platform is self-managing so a utility doesn't need to worry about major investments in internal IT support staff.

The software can provide final daily reads for move-ins/move-outs and virtual disconnects that eliminate truck rolls for off-cycle meter readings when a fixed network is in place.

The software's data logging features offer user-friendly, easy-to-read graphical displays – including a system health screen for monitoring fixed network assets, graphs of customer consumption information, and major reverse flow events and continuous leaks (when using Neptune's E-Coder solid state absolute encoder). Data analysis is provided in both standard and customizable reports.

The software is designed to be easy to install and use with unattended operation. It's also designed to be a flexible software solution – so that utilities can migrate their reading technology without replacing software or causing a major disruption to operations.

Finding Lost Water, Revenue

Neptune's N_SIGHT™ R450™ host software leverages the capabilities of the R450™ AMI system. The web-based, thin-client platform is self-managing so a utility doesn't need to worry about major investments in internal IT support staff. The host software also offers a GIS mapping interface that provides interactive views of leak detection, reverse flow, and many other system conditions when and where they happen across a utility's service areas. It even provides fully custom map views to be created for almost any information that a utility may want to analyze.

The software package's grouping feature gives users the tools to compare detailed consumption data among similar accounts, while its system-wide, time-synchronized meter reading and District Metered Area (DMA) analysis assist in calculating Non-Revenue Water. Its intuitive dashboard helps identify and resolve issues – from addressing high water bill complaints to preventing major water-and-revenue loss.

The software provides a "dashboard" format with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to provide displays, graphs, and charts with crucial data. In addition to providing fully time-synchronized reads, and daily and hourly consumption, it can generate immediate priority alarms for minor and major reverse flow events as well as continuous leaks.

Long-Term Storage, Forecasting

By pairing either N_SIGHT R900 or N_SIGHT R450 host software with Neptune's cloud-based N_SIGHT™ IQ™ intelligent data and analytics application, utilities have control over vast amounts of data and customizable criteria along with enhanced capabilities to store, analyze, and inform both internal users and external customers.

Users can store and analyze up to 10 years of detailed consumption data, identifying historic customer usage and comparison trends to better forecast and plan for the long term. They can group accounts with similar traits to compare consumption, use advanced district metering tools, and even synchronize historical weather data against interval usage.

By using the system's user web presentment abilities, utility managers can keep abreast of customer leak monitoring and alerts – and then communicate critical information in real time.

Through an optional, configurable web portal, utilities can also allow consumers to better monitor and manage their own water consumption, compare it to other users, and track important conditions.

The cloud-based system provides advanced data analysis and reporting, long-term data retention, and web presentment – all without the need to invest in or manage additional servers or physical storage infrastructure.

Insight to Action

Every utility knows the importance of reliable, robust meter reading hardware – meters, encoders, and data collectors. They are the backbone and the muscle that support a water system. But more and more, it's the brains of a system – the software – that makes the key difference in improving operational efficiencies.

Without intelligent software, data is just noise. With the right tools, however, that data provides the means to speed read-to-bill cycles, improve customer service through proactive leak detection and detailed consumption information, conserve water, reduce lost water, and improve revenue.

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