Tucson Water has been replacing older model meters with a new generation of meters that can be read remotely through low-energy wireless communications equipment.
Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) meters can transmit usage data through a wireless radio frequency signal. These signals are received through mobile collectors installed in vehicles for drive-by gathering of meter reads or via handheld devices by Tucson Water meter readers for walk-by collection.
Tucson Water has installed about 150,000 AMR meters through November 2015. This represents about 62% of the approximately 241,000 meters in its water systems. Tucson Water began piloting AMR meters in 2002 and has been installing them to replace conventional meters at the end of their service life. We expect to finish by 2023.
AMR meters offer an accurate, affordable way to measure water usage. While traditional meters must be read and inspected visually each month, usage data from AMR meters can be downloaded automatically through the mobile collector or handheld units.
AMR meters also make it easy to gather usage data more frequently than once a month. Aggregated hourly readings from AMR meters can be used to track water usage in all areas of the city. Tucson Water hopes to offer customers the opportunity to view their usage data on a daily or hourly basis.
Like a traditional manually-read meters, AMR meters measure the amount of water flowing through the meter at a customer’s location. The meters periodically communicate these readings through a low-energy wireless signal. In some parts of town, these signals are gathered through mobile collectors inside vehicles and handheld units carried by Tucson Water meter readers. Readings are forwarded to the utility’s computer systems and used to bill customers.
The AMR meter provides one-way communication of the same data as a traditional meter and is not linked with devices within the home, such as appliances. The water usage information transmitted wirelessly from your meter to Tucson Water’s collection devices is secure. The meter transmissions are encrypted, and the network infrastructure and data centers have been specially adapted. In addition, Tucson Water is continually looking at ways to implement comprehensive cyber-security plans, and security infrastructure and practice to protect against evolving threats.
The brief wireless signals from AMR meters have a much lower power density than emissions from Wi-Fi, cellular phones or other common radio frequency sources. The meters operate at energy levels that are less than 1/100 of 1 percent of the exposure limit specified by the Federal Communications Commission .
Tucson Water's AMR meters have an Encoder/Receiver/Transmitter (ERT) that is either integral to the meter or attached with visible wiring.
Tucson Water policy requires the installation of AMR/AMI capable meters for all new construction and replacement of older meters. Tucson Water does not currently offer an Opt-Out policy at this time.