Badger Meter, a leading global innovator and manufacturer of flow measurement, control and communications solutions, announced the key trends predicted to shape the water utility industry in 2020. Of the four trends included in this year’s list, the value of the Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G networks in creating smarter water metering solutions and resiliency in the face of growing water security concerns rose to the top.
“This year, we have seen drought conditions improve on the West Coast. However, as we look ahead to 2020, water utilities across the nation are preparing for water supply issues,” said John Fillinger, director of utility marketing at Badger Meter. “One of the ways utilities are preparing is with the use of cellular solutions. Cities are using cellular networks to achieve ‘smart water,’ become water resilient and replace aging infrastructures.”
The key trends predicted to shape 2020 include:
- Smart water metering for smart cities
- Increasing value on resiliency and system security
- The future of LPWAN technologies, including cellular NB IoT and LTE-M, that ensure system longevity
- Infrastructure renewal and financing capital improvements
Smart Water Metering
Many industries are incorporating the Internet of Things (IoT) into their processes and are seeing tremendous success. Water metering is no different. The adoption of cellular technology in water metering solutions is opening the door to new opportunities and greater flexibility for utilities. Most cities—large and small—already have cellular infrastructure in place. By implementing IoT-enabled cellular networks, such as BEACON® Software as a Service (SaaS) software suite with ORION Cellular endpoints, cities can benefit from longer battery lifespan, greater scalability and increased mobility, as well as easier integration of smart sensors for water, parking meters, lights, transportation and more without duplicating infrastructure. Smarter solutions, powered by cellular and IoT-based technologies, are rapidly transforming the water metering industry and helping water utilities face the serious challenges ahead.
Increasing Value on Resiliency
Droughts, flooding, storms and other weather-related events are top-of-mind for water utilities because of the potential impact they can have on water quality and water systems. This is one of the factors behind a requirement in America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 for community water systems serving more than 3,300 people to develop or update risk assessments and emergency response plans. The risk assessments include strategies and resources to improve the resilience of the system, such as actions to protect the safety and supply of drinking water and physical security and cybersecurity of the system.
The resiliency of cellular networks is one of the most important benefits of cellular-enabled technologies. After major weather events, cellular networks typically come back online fast in order to support emergency efforts. This means a water utility using cellular networks would be back online quickly, too.
Cybersecurity also continues to be a growing concern. In the American Water Works Association’s (AWWA) 2019 State of the Industry survey, 88% of participants said cybersecurity was a high priority issue and nearly 30% rated it as critical. Actionable data, provided through solutions like BEACON AMA, are helping utilities address these concerns.
For instance, Badger Meter cellular endpoint data is fully encrypted to protect the information as it is collected by the cellular gateway. Once the cellular gateway has the endpoint data, it uses a secure network connection tied to the headend software. This level of security is extremely important because using a secure Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) network connection direct into the headend software eliminates the need to expose data to the public internet for transmission.
Future of LPWAN Technologies
An evolving trend and valuable addition to the water utility industry, advancing cellular and IoT-based technologies continue to help water utilities reduce infrastructure spend, increase interoperability of data and stay up to date with regular technology updates. Most recently and looking ahead to 2020, the industry is moving to support faster, more reliable 5G networks. When the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), which maintains and develops protocols for the mobile industry, introduced the LTE-M and NB IoT networks, it shared that they will be supported by both the 4G and 5G networks. This ensures longevity for cellular endpoint devices going forward.
For water utilities looking to implement a solution, such as the ORION Cellular LTE-M endpoint, the 5G
network will empower improved cost-effectiveness. Greater and quicker access to data will allow water utilities to make more informed decisions using metering data from their systems.
The top two challenges facing water professionals, according to the AWWA 2019 State of the Industry survey, are renewal and replacement of aging water and wastewater infrastructure and financing for capital improvements.
Through its decades of industry experience, Badger Meter understands these issues and strives to provide the flexibility and support water utilities need. For instance, BEACON SaaS can support both classic endpoints and cellular endpoints—a helpful solution for utilities interested in making a phased change to more advanced technologies.
The company recently worked with the municipal water utility of Paducah, Kentucky, to implement a cellular solution. The water utility could not complete a full-system deployment all at once. However, the BEACON SaaS solution with ORION Cellular endpoints offered the utility flexibility in deploying at its own pace. Utility managers even found that additional revenue from the new technology will help pay for replacements of their larger 3 inch, 4 inch and 6 inch meters in less than two years. Additionally, because ORION Cellular endpoints do not require a utility to install a traditional fixed-network infrastructure, water utilities can reallocate infrastructure installation and maintenance expenses to other projects.
Together, the four 2020 industry trends highlighted by Badger Meter—which has reported on the top metering trends it sees in the industry for the past five years—provide valuable insights and information for thousands of water utilities across the United States as they work to make smart decisions going forward.
For more information about Badger Meter and its line of smart metering technologies, visit www.badgermeter.com/utility/solutions/smart-water-metering/.
About Badger Meter
Badger Meter is an innovator in flow measurement, control and communications solutions, serving water utilities, municipalities, and commercial and industrial customers worldwide. The company’s products measure water, oil, chemicals, and other fluids, and are known for accuracy, long-lasting durability and for providing valuable and timely measurement data. For more information, visit www.badgermeter.com.