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Case Studies

Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) and Meter Service Application

Nicor in Illinois

According to a press report attributed to Howard Scott of Cognyst Consulting LLC (a utilities consulting company) as published in the InternetWeek magazine of June 25, 2001, the number of AMR devices in US homes increased substantially with one third of 31.3 million homes in US having been fitted with such devices. Nicor Inc., an Illinois-based utility will start an AMR project with 10,000 households in August 2001. If pilot is successful, it will roll it out to two million households.

Nicor will use device technology from NexusData.  Pricing model for NexusData AMR implementation is based on one-time cost of around $50.00 for each transmitter (as an add-on to existing meters) plus $1.05 to $1.40 per meter per month service charge. Other AMR device vendors are American Meter, Itron, Schlumberger, DCSI, Hexagram, Hunt Technologies, and Innovatac. NexusData devices are 3x5 inch boxes containing an RF device that is integrated with existing meters that connect dials in existing meters with corresponding dials in the NexusData device. As such, new device can read data from old meters.  In the case of Nicor project, data will be sent by CDPD wireless network to a data center run by NexusData as an outsourced service.  NexusData can send data collected from these meters to utilities' in-house information systems through FTP, EDI or other data transfer mechanisms.

Allegheny Power, Maryland, Ohio

In mid 2001, Allegheny Power has started using Windows CE handheld devices (CE5320s) supplied by DAP Technologies for dispatch software that tells a meter reader all the stops on a route. The units are 10x4x2 and weigh 2 pounds. The units are equipped with keyboards - that was one of the considerations for choosing Windows CE devices over PalmOS devices.  Palm units did not score well with Allegheny in terms of horse power and multi-tasking capabilities that CE operating system has.

Presently, the core application is service and maintenance of meters. Software will be downloaded into the units. Wireless connectivity will be added in future - the unit does have a slot for the wireless modem. 

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