New approach to water meter reading
Balonne Shire Council, Queensland, has moved from a paper-based system to a mobile digital system for reading water meters thanks to an initiative to better utilise software already owned by Council.
The cost of hiring external parties to come and read the water meters historically costs tens of thousands of dollars but with the better use of existing technology the cost has been slashed.
Existing council staff now perform this function quickly and easily utilising ‘tablet’ style hand-held devises running custom tables for field data collection, and removing paper from the process.
The water meter data is electronically transferred from the field data capture tablet to the GIS mapping system ‘Mapinfo’ and the Finance System ‘IT Vision’.
This process is far more time efficient and it eliminates human transcribing errors.
Of further benefit is the ability to customise the field data capture tables to include whatever information Council would like to capture about the water meter infrastructure. Photographs can be taken as proof of the meter reading and provide evidence of the condition of water meter infrastructure at a point in time.
The new water meter data captured is easily mapped in Mapinfo providing a valuable visual resource for tracking and sharing information to both internal and external stakeholders. Data includes the identification of meters that may need repair and this information is graphically displayed on a map for supervisors to easily identify problems and schedule repairs.
The process utilises GIS related hardware and software already purchased by Council and has been developed in-house at no extra cost.
Council staff enlisted to perform the field data capture have required very minimal instruction on the new device and find it intuitive and easy to use.
A bonus of the new approach has seen part time staff that may otherwise have been stood down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, be given ongoing work collecting water meter data for Council.