Thames Water starts trials on simpler smart meters

Thames Water believes it has found a way to make smart metering systems simpler and more efficient.

The new fixed-network system, being trialled in London, Reading and Swindon, is also set to de-clutter the nation’s streets and buildings of unsightly transmitter boxes.

The system will not need to use signal repeaters or concentrators, which are used in a typical fixed network set-up. Experts in the company’s Innovation team hope this will make the transmission process simpler and more reliable.

“A smart metering system typically requires a long chain of transmitters, data concentrators and repeaters,” said Piers Clark, commercial director at Thames Water. “The new smart metering transmission set-up we are trialling works along the same lines, but without anywhere near the number of links in the chain that a typical fixed network requires.

“We hope our trial will confirm that it is more reliable and more efficient. After all, fewer bits in the system mean fewer bits potentially going wrong.

“This will also massively reduce the need for unsightly street-mounted transmission boxes in our towns and cities. The trial will also be used to evaluate an existing transmission system.

“Another commonly-used smart-metering system is the drive-by set-up, which involves driving along each street in a company’s region to collect each property’s data. Our new, greener system promises to work without the need for these greenhouse gas-emitting reader vans.”

The Innovation team at Thames Water hopes initial data on how the system performs will be available by October 2011.

The system aims to give more accurate data on how the company manages its water network, showing where exactly the water goes – for example, customer usage, network leaks or customer-side leaks.

Twenty-eight per cent of the 3.3m properties supplied by Thames Water have meters. The company aims to increase this to 60 per cent by 2020.

The company believes meters are the fairest way to pay for water.

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