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Half of New York City Has Smart Water Meters, Official Says

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection says it's ahead of schedule on 2012 target date for citywide installation of smart water meters.

New York City is ahead of schedule on its goal of installing smart water meters for all city customers by 2012, officials said Monday, Aug. 9.

Automated meter reading (AMR) units have been installed for half of the city's customers, 417,000 in all, according to an announcement from the city Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Cas Holloway.

According to the city, the AMRs consist of "small, low-power radio transmitters connected to individual water meters that send daily readings to a network of rooftop receivers throughout the city." The receivers are part of the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications' New York City Wireless Network.

The total cost of citywide installation is $252 million.

The new devices are intended to give customers more information about their daily water usage, in turn assisting conservation and leak detection. Most customers connected to the wireless network receive meter readings four times per day, while certain large buildings receive information hourly. Information on usage will be available by day, week, month, year and billing period. Customers can compare usage during those time frames.

Last month, the city began rolling out AMR Online, a Web-based application on where customers with property using a smart water meter can view water usage on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. The system is expected to be available in all five New York City boroughs by September.

Officials say the wireless system will save money for New York City government by reducing instances of billing disputes and eliminating the need for in-person meter reading, which costs more than $3.6 million annually. The smart meters will also improve enforcement and billing collection.

More municipalities are improving IT infrastructure for their water systems as governments seek to cut water waste, save energy and reduce costs. A study this year from Oracle that surveyed 300 water utility managers found that 68 percent of them believe the adoption of smart meter technology is critical, and one-third are considering implementation.