How smart utilities are using data to improve services

How smart utilities are using data to improve services

What makes a water utility truly “smart”? And how should utilities use their data to improve customer service and increase revenue? Xylem’s Sensus brand recently asked two of its experts to explain how data and communication networks are transforming utilities.

As the global population continues to grow, the water industry needs to change how it manages and processes water to ensure resources are used efficiently and sustainably. Part of the way for utilities to achieve this is to adopt a “smart” approach. This involves using innovative technology to improve processes and services.

Using the right data from the entire water cycle

“Most utilities and municipalities define smart water in terms of manageable elements within the flow, from storage to consumption,” says Travis Smith, Director of Smart Water Strategy at Sensus. “But as an industry, we need to expand our perspective to the entire processing cycle, considering more of a smart water cycle.”

Smith explains that the water system differs every day, throughout the months and years.

“Consumer use and weather patterns vary every hour,” he says, “so we need to view the water cycle and manage water systems based on hourly utilization. We shouldn’t measure consumption for three weeks in July and try to use that data to predict use and system function for the next three years.”

According to Smith, truly accurate data – when collected, communicated and analyzed properly – will:

  • Decrease costs and increase efficiency
  • Grow potential revenue
  • Optimize assets used in the water cycle process (plants, pipes, etc.)
  • Reduce risks (water main breaks, contamination, public health hazards, etc.)
  • Enhance customer service and consumer quality of life.

Learn about the four components in a smart water cycle solution. Download The Role of Smart Water.

Using communication technology to improve customer service

According to Randolph Wheatley, Vice President for Communications, Solutions Marketing at Sensus, the foundation of a smart utility is its communication network. Utilities can use this network to improve operations and interactions with customers.

“At the end of the day, the purpose of a smart utility is to deliver a better customer experience,” Wheatley says. “Customers want to be better informed, and a smart utility provides them with more information—when and how they want it.”

Smart utilities also inform customers about their personal resource consumption. The data supports the sustainability efforts of the utility and its customers.

“Processes and activities that once necessitated onsite service are automated at a smart utility,” Wheatley says, “and these improved operational efficiencies are just some of the ways utilities improve environmental sustainability.”

Learn how utilities can break down siloes with a common network infrastructure. Download The Role of Smart Utilities.

Visit the Sensus Smart Cities Resource Center

Smart utilities are essential to the evolution of smart cities, helping build advanced public infrastructure to deliver clean water, dependable power, safe gas and efficient public lighting. Freeing up resources through the intelligent delivery of essential services, they allow cities and municipalities to invest in other services that improve quality of life.

Learn more about smart cities, including cases studies, videos and ROI calculators, in the Smart Cities Resource Center.

by Chad Henderson