Managing big cities around the world is a challenging issue. The variables that city managers have to deal with are increasing as cities get bigger and the population increases. A competent city manager is qualified to come up with efficient, modern, and up-to-date solutions.
These are optimal solutions that should not lead to new and unexpected problems for the urban population. For instance, the problems of big cities should not be approached in a way that may cause traffic, increase air and environmental pollution, etc.
One of the issues in big cities is measuring the consumption of water, electricity, gas, etc. of the residents of the houses or businesses and issuing bills for them. The main concern of city managers is finding a way to measure how much each home or business has used these energies or services and how much should be paid for them.
In big cities, various solutions are adopted to cope with this challenge. Answers are sometimes still based on traditional or outdated methods, and some have been modernized.
In smart cities, especially in North America, the fourth type of meter is the smart meter. These meters send the information of each meter to the companies in short periods using IoT technology and LoRa applications. LoRa’s technology reduces the need for human labor. The meter information is collected and sent to the companies for analysis. Bills are also sent to subscribers using LoRa applications.
What kinds of utility metering devices exist?
Electricity, gas, water, etc. meters are metering devices. There are three general types of meters: Analog meters, digital electricity meters, and smart meters.
1- Analog meters:
As the name suggests, it has an analog display. They do not offer any connectivity. These meters are also known as electromechanical.
2- Digital meters:
It has LCD or LED displays. They offer connectivity and some instant functionalities. Another name for these meters is electric meters. Digital meters can record electricity consumption in 30-minute intervals. Although there is a need for a technician to read this meter.
3- Smart meters:
They are known as advanced meters or “Type 4” meters. These meters also measure energy consumption digitally in short intervals of 30 minutes. A smart meter can collect and send this information to the provider center. And there is no need for a technician to read the meter.
The information, which is read by technicians is often collected in intervals of one to three months. Using smart meters, information is automatically sent to the data collection center by LoRa Applications, And the bill is issued in a very short period.
In traditional metering methods, technicians take a lot of time to read meters. By implementing smart metering infrastructures, such as sensors, etc., that use LoRa technology and LoRaWan protocols, the data of each meter can be collected remotely.
Minimizing the wastage of energy and controlling the consumption of vital resources are the reasons that lots of governments have started to make utilities smart. Even though the needs of electricity, gas, and water utilities are different and highly specific. LoRa technology, smart devices, connectivity, and data processing capability are similar.
Among the types of meters, electricity meters have been at the forefront of the smart revolution and have become smart before and more than any other type of meter. LoRa technology by LoRa applications can make these meters more efficient by the possibility for data to be aggregated, analyzed, and acted upon.
The types of smart meters and their efficiency and benefits:
According to the International Energy Agency, more than 34% of pumped water is lost as non-revenue water due to: tampering, theft, meter errors, and faulty distribution networks.
Water companies are looking to provide more functionality for water meters in addition to simple monitoring of consumer water meter information. Obtaining information about water pressure and flow, discovering leaks in water pipes and controlling water consumption, etc. are among the things that have become possible by making water meters smart using LoRa technology.
By adopting LoRaWAN, water utilities can become smart faster than electric utilities. Because they face fewer complexities compared to the electricity industry.
According to the International Energy Agency, the demand for electric energy in the world has grown the most in the last decade. This amount of electricity demand creates many management concerns to prevent breakdowns in the production and distribution system. Failure to properly manage this situation may cause 850 million people around the world to have no access to electricity.
It is possible to control consumption, especially during peak consumption, by using accurate information from smart meters. By using the integrated information collected by LoRa applications, consumption can be reduced.
Due to the global desire to reduce the consumption of fuels that harm the environment, reducing the amount of gas consumption has always been a concern of governments. The relative simplicity of gas supply and distribution has made gas companies interested in using smart meters and reading meters remotely. Although, this reason was not good enough for these companies to adopt LoRa technology.
However, the need to accurately check the amount of consumption and to know quickly and easily about the leakage of transmission pipes has turned smart meters into a useful source of information. In the sense that these companies will turn to use LoRa technology and smart meters to respond to the public demand for environmental protection and reducing gas consumption.
Advantages of Using LoRa technology in utility metering:
Using LoRa technology to measure the amount of water, electricity, gas, and even the telephone consumption has many advantages:
1- Reduction of labor and its costs: It is no longer necessary for a technician to visit all the houses one by one and read their meters. Rather, this information is easily collected and provided to the relevant organization by connecting the meters to the LoRa network.
2- Speeding up the issuance of bills: By removing human labor from the process of collecting information for water and electricity, etc., it becomes faster by using LoRa technology.
3- Reduce Billing Errors: When the meters are read by technicians, the possibility of human error is very high. Information collected from meters must be entered into the computer by operators. So there is a possibility of mistakes.
If LoRa technology is used, the information is collected by the device in appropriate time intervals and sent to the company for analysis. By using LoRa applications and removing humans from the process of collecting and analyzing data, the possibility of error is greatly reduced.
4- Improve Meter Accuracy: Over time, the accuracy of meters, especially analog meters, decreases. LoRa technology increases the accuracy of the meter and it can significantly reduce the costs of the companies.
5- Finding out about possible failures and fixing them as soon as possible: Suppose a water pipe has burst somewhere, and a consumption meter shows more than the usual amount. If traditional meter reading methods are used, the meter reading agent will take at least a month to notice this change. But if LoRa is used, it is possible to monitor the consumption of each meter in short intervals. As a result, it is possible to identify breakdowns or excessive expenses and fix them.
6- Reducing traffic and improving environmental conditions: Removing labor from urban management and using the Internet as a substitute reduces traffic. As a result, air pollution in cities is reduced. Less use of fossil fuels and reduction of depreciation of cars will improve the global environmental conditions and reduce global warming.
LoRa’s tech error is down. Meters are not depreciated in this system. Information is sent in short periods, so their analysis is done quickly, and it is possible to control consumption, as well as inform and correct leaks and breakdowns quickly. Less manpower is needed to read the meters, and the traffic and running costs of the companies are also reduced.
The sum of these benefits, in addition to increasing the quality of life, especially in big cities, preserves the environment, reduces greenhouse gasses, and improves the air quality of cities. The numerous advantages of LoRa technology have made it one of the best solutions for the problems of big cities; Cities that should become smart through this technology.
Author: Negar Mehramiz, Marketing Vice President @ Arshon technology