Mobile meter data collection takes another leap into the mainstream

With the upcoming release of an Android version of its SevenX meter data management solution, DataCol Group is helping the utilities sector push further into the mainstream of mobile technology.

In a sector which has traditionally had the majority of its workers in the field, mobile computing devices have always been a logical way to improve efficiency for energy and water utilities. Being able to collect metering data, engineering or customer service activities empowered with mobile devices has been critical.

The nature of those devices is changing as the technology evolves. Ruggedized ‘bricks’ like Itron’s FC300 have been reliable workhorses, but they also have a high cost to purchase and maintain, and are inflexible in adapting to rapidly changing technology.

One of these changes is the inexorable rise of the Android operating platform from Google, which has become the defacto standard for smartphone and tablet devices, with most sources putting it at 85% of the global smartphone market. According to ZDNet, there are over 1200 companies making around 24,000 different types of Android devices (smartphones and tablets).

The depth and breadth of this market offer makes it attractive for large field forces like those in the utility sector. It gives them choice and flexibility, from a simple commercial level phone through to highly ruggedized options, at a lower price and with far greater capability than a proprietary device like the FC300.

For DataCol, providing an Android version of our SevenX meter data management software is a logical pathway for our utility customers. Android devices are often ideal meter data collection tools, with good quality cameras, GPS, WiFi and 3G built-in. It gives utilities wider choice for device procurement, while providing all the features that make our product so useful to manual and AMR field forces.

For utilities in Australia, access to an Android SevenX platform provides an opportunity to deploy proven software which can enhance meter reading operations and enable them to be ‘Power of Choice’ ready. It can be an opportunity to change the ways ‘things have been done’ and implement new KPI focussed processes.

The SevenX meter data capture and management solution consists of an application running on commercially available, non-proprietary, ruggedised, IP67 compliant handheld computers communicating with SevenX, over cellular networks. It also integrates data from other transfer modes such as web, IVR and AMR. In addition, SevenX provides a single interface to the utility billing system (e.g. Gentrack, SAP, Agility) for timely, accurate and consistent billing.

If you are evaluating your mobile device strategy for your utility field force, then contact DataCol, who have over 15 years of experience in this field, to schedule a discussion about your meter data management strategy.

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