3 fallacies of ‘the grid’

For Smarter Sustainable Dubuque's water pilot project, IBM used cloud computing to graphically present meter readings collected every 15 minutes. Data was plotted to show overall usage by date along with peak usage times. Charts show overall comparative trends between groups of volunteers who were engaged in the project versus those who weren't. Photo: City of Dubuque, Iowa

The Dubuque Water Department chose an unmeasured-flow reducer (UFR) coupling made by A. Y. McDonald Mfg. Co. (also of Dubuque) that augments the meter's ability to detect flows below the standard 1 / 8 to 1 / 16 of a gallon per minute down to the smallest leaks and drips. The device replaces the standard 2 1 / 2 -in. coupling on the household side. According to Product Manager Daryl Gilreath, easy installation contributes to a return on investment of less than two years. Company research shows the device increases billable revenue by 5% to 10%. Photos: A. Y. McDonald Mfg. Co.

Commonly referred to as the “register” or “head,” Neptune Technology Group's e-Coder attaches to the meter's measuring chamber and encodes the chamber's rotation. The device digitizes the meter's ID, leak flags, and usage reading. Photo: City of Dubuque

Digitized data travels via cable to a meter interface unit (MIU) outside the home, which sends it to a collector called a gateway. Volunteers got Neptune Technology Group's R900 MIU, which transmits meter readings every 15 minutes via spread-spectrum (or 900 MHz) radio frequency. All other homes are getting a 450 MHz unit, which transmits data hourly. Photo: City of Dubuque

Neptune Technology Group GPRS gateways receive, store, and send digitized meter readings flowing from interface units via cell modem to a secure FTP site hosted by Verity Three. There, file integrity is verified and each record assigned an anonymous ID corresponding to the meter's ID. IBM created file transfer scripts that automatically check for the file's presence and transfer the data to the cloud, where the “smart water” portal is hosted and analytical processes are applied to current and historical water reading data. Photo: City of Dubuque

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