Digital meter technology trial
Unitywater is trialling a range of digital metering technologies to investigate its potential benefits for Unitywater and our customers.
Two parts of Unitywater’s service area – Noosa and Clontarf – have been selected for the trial because they represent a good cross section of our customers. For the technology to be thoroughly tested, we are trialling it on all types of properties, including unit blocks, industrial complexes, homes, flats and shops.
Unitywater is testing one digital meter and three kinds of digital transmitters to be fitted to the existing meters to evaluate their abilities.
In February 2017, all account holders and occupants of properties in the trial areas received letters from Unitywater explaining the trial. The trial will take place over a one year period.
What does the technology do?
Like Unitywater’s current mechanical water meters, a digital meter counts and displays the volume of water used on a property as the water flows through it.
However, unlike the mechanical meter, a digital meter will also transmit the meter reading data to Unitywater at regular intervals.
A digital transmitter is a small device that attaches to an existing water meter. It counts a pulse as water is used and transmits the reading data at regular intervals.
What technology is being trialled?
In Clontarf, properties received either:
- a digital transmitter attached to their existing water meter or
- a digital meter replacing their existing water meter.
Benefits of the technology
While our current water meters are read four times a year, a digital device can transmit its reading every day. The extra data allows the account holder and Unitywater to gain a more detailed understanding of water usage and to notice any patterns.
This is particularly useful in helping to detect concealed leaks that may be underground or hidden in walls or other parts of the property.
Our trial of digital metering technology includes inviting account holders within the trial area to opt in to receive SMS alerts of unusual water usage patterns that may indicate a leak.
Early February 2017
Initial communications with people in the trial area
In early February 2017, all Unitywater account holders and occupants of property within the Noosa and Clontarf trial areas started to receive details of Unitywater’s trial of digital water meter technology by mail.
The document they received is designed to provide information about the trial, the technology and what it means to the reader, whether they are:
- an owner-occupier
- a landlord or
- a tenant.
February - March 2017
Unitywater attached a digital transmitter to the existing water meter or replaced it with a new digital meter. In the latter case, this meant a short water supply outage for the property while the new meter was fitted.
Collection and sharing of data begins
By June 2017, Unitywater will have completed set-up of a system that receives the digital water usage data and we will begin sharing it with our customers.
Customers within the trial area will receive information about how to log in to a website and view daily water usage information. We will also begin sending SMS water consumption alerts to those customers who have opted in to receive them.
Unitywater is particularly interested in the experiences of people within the trial areas with the new technology and we will be seeking their feedback during this time.
What will the trial cost Unitywater customers?
There is no cost to our customers or their tenants for this trial.
Why is Unitywater trialling digital meter technology?
A digital water meter can transmit its reading every day, allowing the account holder and Unitywater to gain a more detailed understanding of water usage and to notice any patterns. This is particularly useful in helping to detect concealed leaks that may be underground or hidden in walls or other parts of the property.
The trial will allow Unitywater to understand how digital meter technology can improve the efficiency of our operations and therefore keep our costs as low as possible for our customers. Any data transmitted by the digital device will only be used for water usage analysis during the trial.
How secure is the digital device information?
The digital device transmits via a radio signal. The transmitted data is simply the meter identification and the reading. No information about the account holder or the property is included.
What benefits can customers expect from a digital device?
The regular readings from a digital device will provide customers with the ability to monitor their water usage. Knowing when and how much water is used could save money by limiting the duration of any hidden leak or other problem.
Customers will be able to access usage data online and potentially see any water consumption problems before they become expensive.
Similarly, Unitywater may be able to notice and alert a customer to unusual usage patterns that could indicate a water leak much faster than is currently possible.
How will alerts work?
Account holders who opt in can receive an SMS if we notice an unusual water usage pattern that could indicate a leak. They will then be able to check their property’s consumption and call a plumber if necessary.
What will happen at the end of the trial?
Unitywater will use the trial to determine the value of digital meter technology to our customers and to our operations. We will ask customers for their feedback, for example, did they notice any unexpected patterns or make any changes to their water usage as a result of the information provided by the device?
After the trial ends we will decide whether the new technology is viable for Unitywater.