Overcoming the Barriers to Financing AMI

Feb. 12, 2014

There are generally four barriers when it comes to financing an Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) system as part of an overall smart water technology approach:

  1. A lack of understanding about the business case
  2. A lack of funding
  3. A lack of political support
  4. Disparate products and solutions

Industry research indicates that many water utility managers are searching for ways to address these challenges; they are also outlined in a Sensus Metering Systems white paper on the topic, “Water 20/20: Bringing Smart Water Networks Into Focus.”

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For water utilities, the question essentially becomes a matter of when—not if—it will be able to incorporate AMI technology due to several driving factors. According to Sensus, utilities worldwide are spending nearly $184 billion annually, of which $14 billion is spent on energy costs to pump water through the networks. Increases in energy prices, environmental impacts, and an aging infrastructure are the major challenges faced by the industry.

Smart technology that provides critical data via remote operations can enable utilities to save up to 20% in labor, vehicle efficiency, and productivity; it streamlines and automates network operations and maintenance. Yet, while acknowledging the need for smarter infrastructure and technological investments, few utilities have embraced an end-to-end smart water network, which would also enhance customer service, according to Sensus.

In addition to their ability to remotely and continuously monitor and diagnose problems, preemptively prioritize and manage maintenance issues, and remotely control and optimize all aspects of the water distribution network using data-driven insights, such systems assist in maintaining regulatory compliance and other policy requirements having to do with water quality and conservation, and provide water customers with information to make informed choices about their water usage.

A smart water network will consist of five interconnected layers of functionality, including:

  1. Measurement and sensing devices, such as smart water meters and other smart endpoints to collect data on water flow, pressure, quality, and other critical parameters, such as potential leaks and abnormalities within the distribution system
  2. Real-time communication channels for two-way communications to instruct devices on what data to collect or which actions to execute, such as remote shutoff
  3. Data management software to process and aggregate collected data via basic network visualization tools and Geographic Information Systems, simple dashboards, or spreadsheets and graphs
  4. Real-time data analytics and modeling software
  5. Automation and control tools to enable water utilities to conduct network management tasks remotely and automatically

Many utilities have existing SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems that can be integrated with smart water networks. Sensus’ paper makes the point that adoption of technologies is tailored according to economic and non-economic utility circumstances, such as utility size, demographic and population shifts, and macroeconomic conditions. Smaller utilities lack in-house IT capabilities and indicate they are likely to favor technology providers that offer “software-as-a-service” solutions or cloud-based network and software hosting.

Larger utilities prefer to keep data and software onsite when possible and only use a third-party supplier for insight generation for highly complex data analytics. Large utilities also benefit from economies of scale and larger budgets that enable them to invest in smart water network solutions, while smaller utilities may not be able to afford the large fixed costs of meters and other advanced sensor networks. Non-economic factors affecting the design and deployment of smart water solutions include local topography, water scarcity levels, and regulatory conditions.

Without a compelling business case, there is little political appetite to eliminate jobs and increase automation in the distribution network via smart water network solutions, utilities indicated in the Sensus survey. Political support consistently emerged as a theme preventing the adoption of smart water networks, both internal to utilities, and external through municipalities as well as regulators, Sensus research notes.

Internally, key decision makers—particularly high-level utility executives as well as regulators—need to be convinced of the potential for smart water network solutions. Many utilities indicated in the Sensus survey that a smart water network leader is needed within the organization.

Externally, political support of municipalities is needed, especially where utilities are publicly owned. That necessitates engaging city councils to understand the big picture as they retain the voting power on large investments.

Many regulatory policies fail to reward cost-conscious efforts to upgrade or better manage networks, according to the Sensus white paper, which also makes the point that water conservation efforts often result in lower utility revenues. Additionally, US utilities note that existing regulations lacked “teeth” for reporting and compliance, providing little impetus to switch to new smarter approaches, the Sensus paper points out. Water utilities drew parallels with the Energy Act of 2005, which they pointed out became a driving factor in the development of the electrical smart grid in the US, and suggested a similar approach would be needed to foster adoption in the water market.

To counteract the lack of political support, the point can be made that smart water solutions will help regulators, lawmakers, and municipalities achieve greater transparency into water quality and network safety by immediately calling attention to quality issues and potential contaminants. They will also help to conserve water, deliver improved customer service, maintain price stability, and minimize community disruptions, according to Sensus.

Rural Development Loan Funds AMI
South Carolina’s Chesterfield County Rural Water Company (CCRWC) CEO Charlie Gray is well aware of the reluctance of decision-makers to embrace technology such as AMI. “I know there are a number of boards—some of them in South Carolina—that have been totally and completely opposed to this,” he says. “Like it or not, when you’re talking about reducing the labor force—even though we did it through attrition—there are a lot of boards and councils that are not in favor of that at all. Even if it costs more money, they’re not in favor of reducing staff, and staff reduction is where the big savings are.”

CCRWC in 2008 deployed the Sensus FlexNet communications network in its service area of more than 800-plus square miles of fruit, vegetable, and poultry farms and small towns, home to 22,000 residents. The service area contains more than 7,000 endpoints. It was not only the large geographical area that provided a challenge in meter reading, but the rolling terrain as well, which hosts a 700-foot elevation variance from the northwest to southeast corners. Environmental sensitivity is mandated as well, with 30% of the area being state and federal wildlife refuge lands.

The FlexNet system was deployed to active meters and worked inactive meters into the program to monitor unauthorized water use and leaks, and to physically locate inactive meters. CCRWC partnered with the adjacent towns of Cheraw and Chesterfield for tower placement, using the towns’ water tanks for the antennas, with the two towns allowed to share the antennas and Tower Gateway Basestations (TGB).

On the wildlife refuge area, CCRWC leased land from a landowner to install an antenna and TGB, employing two monopoles, as a typical tower would not meet wildlife requirements. During installation, every meter was installed with a new customer-side shutoff valve at a cost of $11 each, enabling customers to have control when a leak occurs or they leave town for an extended period of time.

The CCRWC made its business case through a cost-benefit analysis. “We were spending so much time and labor and fuel and vehicle costs reading our meters–it was taking us 13 days in some instances to read the meters with three trucks and two guys in a truck, and a day for return trips to recheck high or questionable readings of meters up to 30 miles away,” says Gray. “We now read all of our meters in less than two minutes.”

The benefits manifested themselves soon after the FlexNet deployment. CCRWC conserved vehicle use, fuel use and labor by eliminating reads, re-reads, and service starts and stops. The Workers Compensation insurance is reduced, as the meter readers were the highest indexed employees due to their exposure to accidents, injuries, and animal attacks. CCRWC achieved reductions in its carbon footprint and an increase in the time frame to detect leaks and unauthorized use of water–often in less than six hours.

Non-revenue water has virtually been eliminated, saving CCRWC money when it purchases its water supply from another local water company that draws water from the Middendorf Aquifer. CCRWC had previously employed six meter readers who used Sensus TouchRead handhelds for reading and billing. Now, all meters are read with 100% accuracy in less than two minutes from CCRWC offices—although essentially the meters can be read from anywhere CCRWC personnel have a computer.

The political support for the AMI system was strong, Gray notes. “We did a great deal of research on this and were able to justify to our board and our membership fairly easily based on the business case,” he says.

CCRWC chose FlexNet primarily for its 20-year battery life, as well as the fact that only 14 TGBs were required for FlexNet deployment, the licensed spectrum, and the power output of the SmartPoints, says Gray. CCRWC already had a history using Sensus technology, and he favored its reliability, customer service, and technology updates. As for challenges with disparate products and solutions, Gray says the FlexNet system “is probably one of the most—if not the most—adaptable system to meter brands.

“We classified our meters relative to age and brand, and whether they were able to be converted or not, and just saved those that needed to be saved anyway as part of this project,” he says. “You do run into some compatibility issues, but they’re more rare than you might think.”

CCRWC has plans to further maximize the system by offering prepay options and automated notification when preset water usage is nearing depletion, and to replace drop boxes with kiosks to allow for real-time balance information, along with payments.

The water utility’s efforts have captured the attention of federal rural development officials, he adds.

CCRWC, a not-for-profit utility, financed the system using a rural development loan from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). “The cost justifications were such that the payback on the total project was fairly short,” says Gray. “We didn’t qualify for any grant money, but as far as getting a loan, we didn’t have any problem with that. We just had to jump through the same hoops that you normally jump through in any rural development project. They looked at the cost-benefit analysis and the payback period.” Gray says several utilities in South Carolina followed suit and were able to get financing for AMI projects based on CCRWC’s experience.

CCRWC converted its financing from the USDA to CoBank, a national cooperative bank that is a member of the Farm Credit System and provides loans, leases, export financing, and other financial services to agribusinesses and rural power, water and communications providers in all 50 states. “There’s a lot less paperwork and they are a lot more attractive in their interest rates and financing options,” says Gray, adding that if he were to do anything differently, he would have started off by using CoBank. He is recommending CoBank to other government entities interested in financing an AMI system in the same manner as CCRWC.

“CoBank is very open to doing some very lucrative financing options,” he says. “They’re guaranteed by the government.” CCRWC has downgraded its initial 13-year payback period estimate to 10 years, based on changing fuel and labor prices.

ARRA Grant Allows for Deployment of AMI
The lack of a strong business case to use smart water technologies as an alternative to investing heavily in capital expenditures seems to predominate, with 65% of those surveyed by Sensus citing that as a challenge.

In an interview with 182 water utilities worldwide, Sensus identified up to $12.5 billion in annual savings from a combination of approaches.

One such approach is improved leakage and pressure management. According to Sensus research, water utilities lose an estimated $9.6 billion annually because of leaked water. The use of different types of smart sensors to gather data and apply advanced analytics—such as pattern detection—could provide real-time leak location information in the network.

Strategic prioritization and allocation of capital expenditures is another approach. Employing dynamic asset management tools for such components as pipes can save 15% on capital expenditures, which closes the gap between the required capital spending and the amount of financing available.

Due to environmental concerns in Westwood, CA, the business case for an AMI system was not the concern, but financing options were. Westwood Community Services handles water, sewer, fire, parks, and streetlights. Of the 900 residential homes in the one-mile square town, some 800 are billed for services, with 100 vacant houses and quite a few seasonal residents, notes Randy Buchanan, district manager.

Prior to its installation of an AMI system, Westwood had no meters; water users were charged a flat rate. “We had extreme water waste,” says Buchanan. “We didn’t do it [install AMI] to increase our revenue per se; we did it because the pumps we used to pump water to town were running excessively just to keep up with the demand of water.”

During a particularly wet year, the sewer ponds overflowed. As a result, Westwood was issued a cease and desist order from the state of California. Westwood then engaged in a study to pinpoint the reasons why the sewer ponds overflowed.

“One of the things we mentioned is that we used an excessive amount of water per capita, so water meters would greatly benefit us and keep our sewer ponds from overflowing as much,” says Buchanan. “We were moving forward with putting water meters in, using a loan from the federal government. We had a shovel ready project and it just so happened that somebody from the state came through our office one day and told our secretary that they had these ARRA grants available–those were for shovel ready projects. It was perfect timing for us.”

Yet the project was a tough sell to the community whose residents never had water meters.

“The ace we had in the hole was we already had a cease and desist from the state because the sewer pond was overflowing, and water meters were part of the solution for that,” says Buchanan. “Our hands were tied. We had a moratorium on building in our community because of lack of responsibility on our part.”

The town was able to deploy a Neptune R450 AMI System in July of 2012 using a grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to fund the project. The two-way communications fixed network system is designed to give users critical, timely data from the field, including daily systemwide, time-synchronized midnight meter readings from all MIUs (meter interface units).

Utilities can remotely configure their system to send priority alarms alerting key personnel to possible leak and reverse flow events. Additionally, utilities using the R450 System can eliminate off-cycle readings for high water bill complaints and/or move-ins and move-outs with access to hourly consumption data for time-of-use billing. Westwood Community Services’ fixed based network utilizes a sole antennae erected near its building from which all meters are read.

The ARRA grant stipulated that the system had to be made in America. The contractor who won the bid had a relationship with Neptune and used the company for the meters, the radios, the antennae, and other components.

Creative Ways to Get the Ball Rolling
Even if there is a strong business case, a lack of funding impedes the process.

Many utilities currently manage visible leakage and pressure fluctuations primarily on an ad-hoc and reactive basis, responding to leaks and bursts and repairing infrastructure as needed, which inevitably is cost- and time-consuming, in contrast to the early identification of leaks through smart water technology, according to the Sensus paper.

A Black & Veatch survey concludes 34% of US utilities indicate they will have insufficient funding for their capital infrastructure projects. It will take an estimated $1.7 trillion to repair and expand the US potable water infrastructure in the next 40 years, according to the American Water Works Association. Because of the constraints of insufficient public and private financing for infrastructure improvements, utilities have been forced to seek creative sources of savings to fund capital expenditures.

Sensus research has found that while many utilities have integrated a GIS into their operations to map maintenance work orders, they often lack the ability to anticipate network deterioration and prioritize and properly time maintenance so that capital expenditures are used more efficiently.

The company indicates that possible solutions to lower the financial barrier to entry into smart water technology, such as AMI, include risk-sharing contracts to lower the upfront investment required and third-party suppliers who manage and analyze the data, a solution that’s now been undertaken by 20% of large and small utilities. The utility would pay a smaller flat rate to a smart water network solutions provider and share a portion of their additional revenue or saved costs with that provider.

Sensus research shows utilities can save between $7.1 and $12.5 billion annually from implementing smart water solutions that reduce operational inefficiencies and optimize capital expenditures. For example, more than 5% of current operating and capital budgets could be repurposed and reinvested in network upgrades or given back to water users in the form of lower rates and tariffs.

Recognizing that financing a system upfront can be a significant challenge to utilities, Aclara offers an option to get the ball rolling faster, says Todd Stocker, director of product management for water and gas products. “When you’re looking at an AMI system, one of the challenges is traditionally you had to invest financially in the system before you start realizing the benefits, so, for a while, you’re operating in the red until the system can pay for itself, which is in some later years,” he points out. “We’re looking at ways to be paying for the system once you’ve already started realizing benefits. An example of the way we’re doing that is in the Aclara network being offered at no charge to the customer. We’ll go in and put in a Data Concentrator Unit infrastructure on a commitment of purchasing the Meter Transmission Units in the system and deploying.”

As the utility purchases a meter end point and puts in out in the field, “it’s already working for you to realize the benefit of not having to go back and visit that, so you’re investing in your system as you’re rolling it out,” says Stocker. “It’s more of a drive-by model, where you’re putting out the endpoints as you need them and realizing the benefits immediately–you’re getting the fixed network benefit at the drive-by pricing model.”

Offerings around letting Aclara manage the network or maintain the infrastructure helps utilities manage the costs in a predictable way, Stocker points out.

A Natural Resource Agency Zero-Interest Loan
Like Westwood, the town of Carolina Beach, NC, had a compelling business case for an AMI system. Also like Westwood, Carolina Beach faced financing challenges.

The metering system of Carolina Beach numbers 4,000, with some of the meters having been in place for decades. “One of our struggles was to gain good control on accuracy of water utilization,” says Gilbert DuBois, public utilities and capital projects director for Carolina Beach. “Many of the meters the town had purchased in years past were losing their efficiency relatively rapidly, and there were others that had been in for a long time and still were pretty accurate up in the 90-plus range.”

The town attracts a good number of part-time residents whose homes may experience pipe ruptures or leaks that create substantial increases in their bills before they can return in a week or two to fix them, DuBois points out.

Public works employees would review the bills and respond to calls as needed. It became apparent that human resources could be used in a more efficient manner if the town could adopt an AMI system.

DuBois and his team investigated the gains of systems deployed elsewhere and determined that by having one, “we would have the ability to spot leaks faster and more efficiently than doing manual reads,” he says. “After laying several things on the table as far as the utilization of personnel causing a reduction of man hours to go out and do reads and re-reads and proving the efficiency with the AMI system, we had the full support of our community and the council was very, very positive.”

The system was financed through a zero-interest loan from the North Carolina Department of Natural Resource’s Public Water Supply Loans and Grants program. “It was really overdue for this particular area,” says DuBois. “The propagation study allowed us to have redundant pickup with the use of three different sites, two on water tanks and another point we’ll have to install, allowing us to cover our entire beach.” Carolina Beach is using an Aclara STAR Network AMI system and had expected to have the full installation completed and up and active in early January.

The system is designed to deliver robust data communications on secure, licensed radio frequencies and provide timely data, accurate and timely billing, high/low consumption reporting, and non-revenue water loss detection. “There are a couple of AMI systems in a few of the adjoining counties,” says DuBois. “Most of them have had very good success. A couple that have not had good success use a different kind of meter than I’m currently using.”

DuBois advises other municipalities considering AMI systems to examine their “real” needs. “Everybody wants to do more with less,” he adds. “When I have three to four people I send out multiple times a month to read meters like we’re currently doing, it takes away from their assigned jobs.” In the past several months, he’s seen a significant increase in construction and building, necessitating the need for the installation of water taps and sewer taps.

“I’m also struggling with maintaining an old and failing infrastructure,” says DuBois. “It would take man-hours away from the allocated people I have. It’s hard to get another person doing just the meter reading, so if we can do it with the AMI system, it would put those men back to work in the fields so I can get the taps installed, address the maintenance issues, and whatever I need to do, so I’m getting the most out of my personnel rather than just reading meters.”

Water Utilities And Economies of Scale
Global Water Resources–which owns and operates regulated water and wastewater utilities–developed FATHOM Utility-To-Utility (U2U) Solutions, which includes the FATHOM AMI system.

The most effective business case to make for AMI is a comparison of one data point in a utility–the one obtained monthly from manual or mobile meter reading–with the hundreds of reads one would get hourly through an AMI system, says Jason Bethke, president and chief growth officer for FATHOM.

“The richness of that data and its ability to be applied across the utility certainly makes this business case easy to make,” he says. “There is a case for improved accounts receivable, fewer phone calls into the call center, happier customers, and the function of having more information.

A remote outdoor Tower Gateway Base used by Chesterfield County Rural Water Company.

“If you look at what the utilities are spending on the verticals from water meters to AMI and then to data posting, analytics, billing, customer case, and then remittance management, today they’re spending $12 and $15 per house per month on that delivery of customer service,” he says, adding that “AMI system data can significantly shave the costs.”

That means funding for AMI systems is in the existing budgets, Bethke says. “You just have to be innovative on how to access that line item of the budget.”

Funding issues can be a challenge, because water utilities operate on a different economy of scale, Bethke says.

“There are 52,000 water utilities in this sector, and none of us have any scale that would equate to what a Wells Fargo, Apple, or Facebook could achieve,” he says. “Because we operate on those different economies of scale, if you can bring in some of these cloud technology components to the table and achieve some scale–which is really our business model–by achieving that scale, you can drive the cost down of these operations, and as a result, the business case for AMI becomes simpler.”

In FATHOM, Global Water Resources designed an offering that could be deployed inside the existing budget line items of cities, Bethke says. “We basically did that as a utility, so we started renting those services to municipalities. We have a scale where we’re less expensive. The result is then they can take the other revenue that would otherwise have been spent on the budget line item and fund AMI projects to increase the revenue in the cities.”

FATHOM put together a municipal lease tax-exempt financing vehicle that allowed the cities to enter into a 15-year agreement that could finance the infrastructure, installation, and operation at a “fairly low rate,” notes Bethke.

“It has the advantage of being non-statutory, which means it doesn’t impact existing bond funding and could be underwritten in 30 days or so,” he says. “It allows cities to move quickly into AMI without impacting their existing bond structures. They are financeable because this business case we look at is self-funding.”

Political support is probably the toughest issue, Bethke says. “It’s different from market to market, but my belief is we’re going to solve the water issues for the country and the world on the demand side, not necessarily the supply side,” he explains. “As you start to look at solving our infrastructure, water scarcity, and water quality issues from the demand perspective, what you need is more and more data. What will ultimately drive the political components is we’re going to need more and more data to run more and more efficient utilities.”

Utilities expressed concern in the Sensus research over perceived deficiencies in smart water technologies on the market, emphasizing that proprietary vendor solutions were difficult to integrate and different vendors had different strengths in their offerings. The lack of international open standards for devices poses an additional challenge. Also, technological solutions need to be user-friendly, especially for small utilities that have limited IT staff and don’t have the capacity to train multiple operators in data interpretation and analysis. Disparate products is a “big problem” for the sector, says Bethke.

“We’re trying to lead the conversation on open sourcing the product offerings and bringing them into common platforms, because without that we can’t achieve the economies of scale that we need to manage our businesses,” he says. “I think people are beginning to realize that a very important position to take is that this data belongs to the utilities, and, to the extent that it is confined inside proprietary elements, I think that’s bad for the sector. We all need to work together to say we need open source tools and technology for us to be able to integrate these things together.”

FATHOM’s meter data management platform currently homogenizes at least four meter manufacturers’ data to be able to provide a common platform for the billing systems, Bethke points out. FATHOM is designed for end users to deploy AMI to high-value commercial customers without concern of impact on the Customer Information System.

“That’s a function of opening up the standards and working with the manufacturers to provide a platform that integrates those components, and then doing it all in the cloud so we can achieve the scale,” says Bethke.

Empowering Customers With Information
Two years ago, Covina, CA, deployed a Fathom system for a variety of reasons. “We were at a perfect storm,” points out Kalieh Honish, interim director of public works. “Our rates were way under market. Our infrastructure was failing, and we needed a new billing system as well.”

While Covina took an interest in Fathom’s AMI system, “we found out they had other products–and as part of the process of realizing we needed a new rate structure, given California’s 20/2020 mandate (an overall reduction of urban water use by 2020)–for bringing our system into this tighter control,” says Honish. “Our rate study included the fact that we wanted to lease this equipment and upgrade our infrastructure. Before we had that, we didn’t have any GIS in our system. We had a few smart readers, but they were all drive-by reads, so we needed some major upgrades.”

Covina faced an “uphill battle” with residents in terms of the rate increase, Honish adds. “We implemented a tier rate structure to help with conservation needs that we needed to meet,” she says. “Other incentives were not working for us for conservation.” The Fathom system enabled Covina to empower customers with information to help them identify water usage and leak detection.

Fathom had been a one-stop shop for Covina, Honish states. “We were not looking for all of the system upgrades when they first came to us. We had a billing problem at first and they came to us to sell the other options, and we said, ‘OK, first see if you can solve our billing software issue,’ which they did. The AMI system was the second phase for us.” In the end, Fathom provided new billing software, an AMI system, and a GIS system to Covina.
Sensus Summarizes Solutions to Challenges
The following solutions were taken from the Sensus White Paper “Water 20/20: Bringing Smart Water Networks into Focus.”
  • Utilities and municipalities can help technology providers pilot solutions, establish benefits of smart water networks, share data, and help innovators understand utility needs and mindsets.
  • Utilities need to actively learn about smart water networks and how end-to-end solutions can holistically support improvement in key areas of their utility’s performance, and how such
    solutions could impact their budget for traditional capital spending on infrastructure improvement
    as well as their budget for operations and maintenance.
  • Identify an internal smart water network champion who is willing to explore the business
    case for smart water networks and champion discussions on the topic with key decision-makers within the utility.
  • Regulators can reward and incentivize improvements in operational effi ciency. Diverting savings
    captured by utilities to other municipal operations or reducing tariff s and price increases leaves little incentive for utilities to seek additional productivity improvements.
  • In areas of high water scarcity, regulators should prioritize favorable economic conditions and reward utilities that conserve water by implementing smart water network solutions.
  • Regulators can leverage smart water technologies to achieve higher water quality standards. If water utilities have the capability to monitor water quality on a real-time basis, regulators could consider defi ning new standards, which require more frequent reporting and testing.
  • Investors can apply a results-driven investment approach to technologies across the industry. To achieve maximum impact, smart water networks will require innovative approaches and solutions in all aspects of the value chain, from ubiquitous, battery-powered measurement and sensing devices, to software with pattern detection and predictive analytic capabilities. Investors can offer financial products, such as long-term, low-interest loans funded by payback from technology investments that enable utilities to realize up-front savings from major technology installation investments.
  • Industry and utility associations can promote innovative solutions and publicly champion smart water networks in a market that is still in its infancy, much the same way such advocacy encouraged legislation needed to push adoption of electric smart grid solutions. Industry associations can reiterate the value of smart water network solutions to utilities and regulators by serving as a powerful outlet for promoting the business case for smart water technology and sharing successful case studies and results. They can also reiterate the value that smart water networks deliver to consumers by creating fewer and shorter service interruptions, advancing water quality and improving the availability and transparency of information that consumers need to manage their water consumption and associated costs.
  • Technology providers can work with utilities in research and development and pilot phases to collaborate, develop, and adopt open standards and ensure interoperability of different hardware and software off erings. Technology providers should foster a collaborative “smart water ecosystem” that begins with advocacy and lobbying work with regulators to increase awareness around the opportunities for smart water networks, and they should encourage regulatory changes that could stimulate adoption. For the general public, technology providers should conduct public outreach to bolster awareness for smart water networks, leveraging the widespread use of electric smart meters and increased conservation efforts.
  • Academia can serve as a powerful forum to facilitate rigorous conversation, encourage partnerships and collaboration, and validate business cases. University research could serve as a launching pad for innovative smart water hardware and software technologies. Some universities are increasingly paying back the costs of their research by monetizing patents.
About the Author

Carol Brzozowski

Carol Brzozowski specializes in topics related to resource management and technology.

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