• L. Tracy Mercer
    L. Tracy Mercer

Public Utilities Director
City of Clearwater, Fla.
Population served: 108,000
Employees: 170
Budget: $68 million
Favorite technology: Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)

“Technology has come a long way,” says Tracy Mercer. “And with opportunities for savings (labor, fuel, etc.) and exceeding customer expectations, AMI is a win-win for everyone.”

AMI hardware and software combine interval data measurement and continuously available remote communications. The measurement and collection system typically includes meters at the customer site, communication networks between the customer and the service provider, and data reception and management systems that make the information available to the service provider.

According to Mercer, a good AMI system will record daily water use and allow for customer notification of a potential leak, within a day of the leak, rather than after a monthly meter reading is collected. Also, when a customer closes one account and opens another, the readings can be collected on demand by computer, rather than the utility having to send an employee to collect a reading. Other benefits include increased meter and billing accuracy, reduced maintenance costs, and faster service restoration.

“The most fascinating aspect of this technology is the remote disconnects and connects. To me, it should be impossible to turn off a liquid with an airwave that is received by a tower or antenna and then resent to a meter,” says Mercer.

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