Podcast | August 27, 2013

Master Meter Helps Consumers Master Water Use


Ian MacLeod, VP of Marketing for Master Meter, discusses two partnerships that Master Meter has entered into that are changing the way consumers understand their water use.

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The following is an excerpt from a Q&A with Water Online Radio. Click on the Radio Player above to hear the full interview.

Water Online Radio: Most cities have different systems for the different kinds of utilities which, having been an old IT guy is such a hassle. What is Master Meter doing to help deal with that issue?

Ian: Well, it's a great question. Yes, in some cities, the different utilities don't talk to each other. Maybe there's an electric provider, which is a totally independent company, and then the water department might be a municipally owned and operated system.

What we've done is partnered with one of the largest suppliers of smart grid technology. They're an incredible group, Landis+Gyr, and they have a massive footprint across the country and really, around the world. We’ve integrated their protocol into the registers on our meters.

Basically, our water meters can now talk to their smart grid network. For instance, if you have a city that lies under the footprint of the Landis+Gyr smart grid system, which is electric, we can go and put our meter in their system, embedded with the communication protocol for Landis+Gyr and piggyback on their system.

You don't have redundant systems, redundant antennas and so forth. That's one thing we're doing to try to reduce the infrastructure requirements and make it really a streamlined, elegant approach to metering water, electricity, and gas.

Water Online Radio: How’s the market reacting? What impact is that having on how the market is dealing with data?

Ian: I look at it as an evolution of AMR and AMI. First, in the beginning, it was just, “Let's measure water.” Then it was, “Well, how are we going to collect those meter reads effectively and cost efficiently?” and so forth.

Then, the next stage is, “Alright, now we have all this meter consumption data. What are we going to do with it?” That's where some really smart meter data management solutions come in. Master Meter has a partnership right now with IBM. It's called City Mind, and it's all across Europe.

It's our solution for the European market. It will come here to the United States, but we've partnered with one of the biggest names in Data, and here's what we're doing with it. Imagine a world in which we could push that data back to you, the consumer and the actual user of the water.

For instance, you're on vacation. Maybe you could get a leak alert, an unauthorized usage of water alert. Maybe your neighbor is stealing water, or maybe you have a leaky hose bib or something like this.

We can now empower you to take greater control of your own water consumption, instead of just barking at you, “Conserve water, use less water.” Now we're giving you access to what you're actually doing.

Imagine budget alerts. Maybe you get a text message, “Hey Todd, it's May 15th and you're already up to $150 for the month in water usage. Slow down, or you're going to go over your $200 budget,” for instance.

What we're doing is empowering you, the consumer, not just the water utility, empowering you to take greater control over your consumption, make you more aware of how you're using water, when you're using water. It's really, I think, the next evolution of our industry…

Click on the Radio Player above to hear the full interview.