22 August | 2017 www.waterworld.com
Choosing bile De ice
or S art Meter R adin
Choosing a Mobile Device
for Smart Meter Reading
BY JIM DEMPSEY
Smart meters are now commonplace in residen- tial, commercial, and industrial applications na- tionwide. Utilities have discovered a variety of
benefits from collecting status and usage data efficiently in
the field while eliminating potentially hazardous situations for
As smart meters gain more functionality they are evolving
beyond simply recording usage to create a customer bill. The
latest smart meters can now act as sensors to help utilities
understand what’s going on with their distribution networks,
enabling them to quickly determine the root of a performance
issue. On the other side, customers also benefit from online
access to their usage data and other services enabled by smart
Despite increasingly automated capabilities, technicians in
the field using rugged tablets and laptops still play a critical
role in ensuring these systems operate reliably and deliver the
return on investment that utilities expect and the uninterrupted services their customers demand. Here are some things to
look for in a mobile device with smart meters.
CONSIDER THE CONNECTIVITY
Smart meters deliver two-way communication from the
meter installed in homes and commercial environments to
utility providers. While some utilities have connected their
smart meters by installing fixed-network routers and collec-
tors on nearby power poles or other utility infrastructure,
many utilities still employ mobile data collection for their
electricity, gas and water meters, otherwise known as drive-
by meter reading. In these cases, it’s important to find a mo-
bile device that has strong connectivity capabilities for tech-
nicians in the field. Newer connectivity capabilities include
meters equipped with cellular communications that allow
management and data transfer independent of the location
of reader vehicles through the use of laptops and tablets.
Of course, the ability to use computing devices in vehicles
and outdoors in all kinds of weather conditions is essential
for the overall productivity of the field service team. Rugged
enterprise-ready devices should be impervious to wet con-
ditions and cold weather, and be able to withstand typical
incidents like drops and falls without damaging their screens
Proper considerations for selecting the right mobile device
include the following:
• Evaluate your operational needs and daily working envi-
• Assess your IT infrastructure and how existing technology
is performing daily tasks.
• Prioritize and understand how the device you are considering will improve business functionality and/or lower maintenance costs.
• Ask for input from field service workers to determine how
they are using the current technology, what issues they
face and whether their devices could be more helpful.
• Know what requirements you need from your device.
Should it be semi-rugged, fully rugged or built for hazard-
ESPECIALLY IN FIELD SERVICES,
THE RIGHT MOBILE DEVICE
coupled with the right durability features can make workers
more productive and effective at almost every task.