The aim of the SMART.MET project (2017-2020), led by a group of 7 water utilities, is to drive the development of new technologies to deal with the collection and management of smart metering data, through a joint Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP).
Smart metering refers to electronic, internet-capable devices that allow the automatic and remote measurement of energy, water and other types of consumption of a building or home. Smart metering usually allows the processing, transfer and management of data and provides timely consumption information in a highly dissagregated and detailed manner. This facilitates the management of the resources involved, both from the supply side (providers) and from the demand side (users). Despite these advantages, smart metering is not yet well advanced in the water sector. The reasons for this include the lack of common European standards and open technological platforms, which favours the dependency of water operators on technology providers. In addition, present solutions do often not fit the needs of water operators, such as interoperability among systems, non-propietary technology and two-way communication.
These shortcomings explain the need for an advanced water meter technology, able of tackling the challenges of technology lock-in, interoperability, two-way communication, battery lifetime and radio signal coverage, to name a few. In addition, safety issues and people's acceptance of local wireless network emissions are also crucial questions to be addressed.
Smart water metering presents itself as an effective solution to the challenges faced by the majority of European water utilities today, from extreme events induced by climate change to the need to replace an ageing infrastructure. Indeed, providing access to accurate data in real-time can help decrease operating costs and prioritize infrastructure investments, while also improving the daily management of networks and customer services.
The Smart.Meter project, carried out by 7 public water operators and 6 research and expertise entities, strongly paves the way to a more efficient management of the urban water services by providing automatic reading of the household meters and billing, real time assessment of water balance for leak detection and identification of abnormal behaviours, among other issues. By launching a Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP) procedure, the utilities involved seek to promote demand-driven research into new innovative smart meter solutions that fully cater to the needs of utilities (in terms of readability, battery lifetime, interoperability).
The main roles of FNCA are the assessment of the feasibility of a broad implementation of the new technology, the social and environmental impacts of the new solutions and the monitoring of the achievements of expected goals, for an improved and more sustainable management of the urban water cycle.
Find here the leaflet of the project