Trouble with Your Water Bill?
I’ve seen it happen. All of a sudden, your water bill increases substantially, and it’s puzzling to decipher where in fact the change came from. A monthly reading can make it difficult to determine when and why your bill increased, so, with the help of SAS Analytics based right here in Cary, the town has adopted a new way to help residents track their own water usage.
This system, called “Aquastar” in Cary, takes water readings remotely every hour and relays them to the town government’s database via a battery-operated radio transmitter. The big switch, which started with a proposal in 2009, eventually led to the installation of 60,000 new meters in Cary and Morrisville.
Basically, through the wireless capabilities of the new meters, a regional collector relays hourly water readings to the town. Then, from the Aquastar system, detailed usage reports that customers can access through the town’s web-based portal are created.
With help from Town Council Representative Lori Bush, CaryCitizen published detailed information on Aquastar technology last year, right before the program kicked into motion and before citizens started monitoring their water usage.
Powered by SAS Analytics
These new meters may be old news, but the technology behind them isn’t. SAS Institute, a global leader in business analytics software and service, now assists the town in organizing and storing these large amounts of data. Town of Cary Technology Services Director Bill Stice explains that:
[Originally] the data set was so large that we could not turn it into something useful. In working with SAS, we are able to create and publish easily understandable summary data. We now get a much better response from citizens looking at the data online.
The meters produce millions of rows of data for SAS to analyze and turn into simple usage reports. As Stice says, the adoption of this analytics technology was a necessity in order for the system to handle the massive influx of information that Aquastar creates.
Now, citizens can easily view their average hourly, daily, and monthly consumption from up to 13 months ago. They can also set alerts that notify them via email or text message if usage rises above a certain limit.
Saving Money and the Environment
Prior to Aquastar, the Town of Cary was manually reading over 57,000 meters per month with deployment trucks and water personnel. Since readings are now taken through wireless technology, Aquastar has reduced Cary’s fuel consumption by over 7,000 gallons a year and improved the town’s carbon footprint by 71,000 miles of truck travel.
The new system also allows the town to be proactive, not reactive, in their response to water issues. Leaks can be found sooner rather than later which, in return, can result in cheaper repairs.
Find out how to review your own water usage data through the Town of Cary website.
Story by Jessica Patrick. Photo by Delwin.