Technology helps utilities correct their meter records, create satisfied customers and improve customer and employee safety
It is remarkable how dynamic a utility customer base can be and how hard it is to keep accurate records of the changes. In any given year, a large number of customers move, old buildings get taken down or new buildings are built, building addresses change and meters are changed. Frequently, the meter records and billing records don’t keep up with the changes. Meter readers used to catch many of these errors in the past, but that check does not exist in the era of remotely read meters.
Following are examples of data errors Metroscale has found:
- Hundreds of thousands of incorrectly recorded addresses in billing systems
- Tens of thousands of addresses that were indicated to be inactive, but had active service
- Tens of thousands of buildings that do not exist anymore, even though billing systems indicated that they were active customers
- Customers who were left out of billing systems
Benefits: Metroscale has helped our utility clients to:
- Stop sending tens of thousands of bills to customers who were no longer active customers
- Identify tens of thousands of accounts that were not being billed even though they had active service
- Identify thousands of unsafe gas connections that risked the safety of utility customers
- Identify hundreds of thousands of addresses that were causing high rates of returned mail or non-delivery of bills
- Avoid tens of thousands of site visits by utility employees, reducing customer inconvenience and improving field employee safety
Technology – The Virtual Meter Reader
Metroscale delivers the above benefits to utility clients by combining data analytics and thermal imaging into a “virtual meter reader.” Metroscale’s data analysis tools allow the utility to compare meter records to thermal imaging data that indicates whether a building is heated or not heated during the winter. This allows the utility to confirm that those accounts that are marked as “inactive” or as “zero use” are in fact in a dormant state. Whereas a single meter reader could visit a few hundred buildings in a day, a single “virtual meter reader” thermal imaging vehicle can check on up to 10,000 buildings in a day.
Metroscale’s vehicles drive through city roadways and the vehicle-mounted thermal imaging sensors measure the heat coming from buildings. The sensors on the vehicles are high-speed versions of the same thermal imaging technology that are used by energy auditors and are available even as smart-phone attachments. However, our vehicles can measure heat from buildings while going up to 50 MPH. While we are imaging buildings, we can also thermally image and detect thermally stressed street level and pole mounted transformers.
Our clients trust our data more than traditional site-visit data
Our customers tell us that that the consistency in data gathering and analysis and the clear documentation of analysis provides higher quality and consistent data than what can be obtained through traditional on-site visits.
High-volume throughput improves image quality and consistency
Metroscale Analytics’ mass-scale approach ensures that comparative images are captured during similar weather conditions. This enables consistent image quality and better comparison of the images. Traditional lower volume thermal imaging approaches result in images being obtained over many days with different weather conditions making it difficult to accurately compare the images.
Metroscale’s thermal imaging system offers unique advantages over alternative systems
- No human interaction with buildings of interest required and no need to enter private property.
- Ability to capture data on thousands of buildings a night by driving past the buildings of interest.
- Results are fully integrated into a database and maps for easy analysis and interpretation.