NTT Telecon, a member of NTT East Group, is focusing on expanding the spread of remote water meter reading solutions by rolling out a new highly waterproof LPWA terminal, ”Guttobi-kun W” which is directly connected to water meters.
Yoshi Wada, who is in charge of new business development at NTT Telecon, says, ‘This is a solution that dramatically improves the efficiency of water meter reading.We would like to appeal to local governments and other organizations and develop the water-related market”.
Water supply is a local government operation. Compared to electricity and gas, the digitalization of operation has lagged behind, and in many cases, meter readers go around each household’s water meters and read the meters using handheld terminals. On the other hand, due to the declining birthrate and aging population, a lack of successors for meter readers and a chronic labor shortage are becoming major issues.
To solve these issues, NTT Telecon has been providing remote water meter reading for over 10 years using the automatic meter reading and centralized monitoring ”Telecon Smart Service”. Automatic meter reading has been provided by connecting a communication terminal to a water meter with a transmission function or a remote meter used in areas with heavy snowfall that is raised to a height where it will not be buried in snow.
NTT Telecon provides communication terminals and centralized monitoring for water meters from various manufacturers from a neutral position. This system is easy for many local governments to implement because it can be introduced while ensuring market competition for the water meters themselves, which need to be replaced every eight years. However, there were issues with its widespread use. This is because most water meters are stored in water boxes buried underground. Buried water supply boxes are easily affected by snow and rain. Conventional communication terminals are difficult to install in underground water boxes that may be submerged in water.
In areas with heavy snowfall, water supply boxes may become buried under snow, forcing people to give up on meter reading in the winter. In these areas, residents are first billed for the estimated difference, and then in the spring, the meters are read again and the actual difference is billed.
The problem is that if you don’t read meters for a long time, you won’t know if there’s something wrong with your water supply. For example, even if there is a water leak, you won’t notice it until spring, and if you just look at the reading on the meter, you could end up paying a huge amount of money.
”Guttobi-kun W” was developed to solve these problems.
”Goodtobi-kun W” is a specialized terminal for water meters. Completely sealed and highly waterproof. The smaller size also makes it easier to store in a water box, and the shape allows it to be attached directly to a water meter. “This will dramatically expand the use of remote water meter reading,” explains Wada.
If ”Goodtobi-kun W” is introduced, water meter data will be transmitted even if the water box is buried in snow, making automatic meter reading possible. In the unlikely event that there is a water leak, an alert will be sent, so you can immediately identify the problem.
The company positions this as ”first year of full-scale widespread use of remote water meter reading,” and plans to actively promote ”Guttobi-kun W”. For the time being, we will focus on areas with high demand, such as areas with heavy snowfall and mountainous areas.
“The town of Nakafurano in Hokkaido has introduced water DX to all households (approximately 2,150 households). We would like to eventually promote water DX nationwide, starting with snowy areas such as Hokkaido, Tohoku, and Hokuriku “(Mr.Wada).
Regarding sales development, we will place emphasis on collaboration with NTT East and NTT West (NTT Business Solutions), which specialize in local government sales.
”Goodtobi-kun W” is also a product eligible for the Digital Garden City Nation Initiative Grant.
However, from the local government’s perspective, applying for grants requires know-how and is time-consuming.
Regarding this point, Mr. Wada said, ” NTT East Group has a complete support system, including support for grant applications.In fact, NTT East supports multiple local governments in applying for Digital Garden City grants. I would like to highlight these aspects as strengths.”
Even as communication technology evolves and changes, NTT Telecon, which has a rich track record of closely following the changes and carrying out intensive monitoring, will also play a role in water meter reading.