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Is Australia ready for digitally connected water meters?

Trials undertaken by three Melbourne water utilities into digitally connected water meters and communications technologies have been extended by 18 months, delaying the decision to deploy smart water tech across the network.

City West Water, South East Water and Yarra Valley Water are collaborating on trials for the Digital Metering Joint Program, but have decided that additional research is needed before any decisions could be made.

“The Digital Metering Joint Program is committed to a detailed and thorough end-to-end assessment of communications and metering technologies to ensure that we’re able to deliver maximum value to customers,” the utilities stated, as reported by IoT Hub.

“Before deciding to roll out digital meters on a broader basis, each utility will need to gain the support of its customers, as well as the Victorian Government.”

And while the decision to deploy new metering technology has been delayed, the utilities said they are confident that the collaboration will be worth the wait.

“By adopting a Melbourne-wide approach to digital metering we can deliver a range of benefits, including a consistent customer experience, similar or compatible technologies, and bulk purchasing benefits,” they stated.

The utilities are currently considering different options for the IT platforms that might support a digital meter rollout, which necessary to ensure synthesis with each utility’s unique IT and business processes.

The utilities are trialling LoRaWAN and Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT), as well as several other low-powered wide area networks standards.

LoRaWAN and NB-IoT are media access control protocols for wide-area networks.

NB-IoT-enabled smart water meters recently became a option for utilities, following Telstra’s announcement of its NB-IoT network going live across all major local cities.