Automatic Billing System for Water Management

For Urban water project Orga Systems will use it core plattform to establish an  Automatic Billing System (ABS) for water management. This will be  the central component for the Customer Empowerment Tools to be developed in WP5. It enables the interaction between one or serveral utility service providers and their customers. The following figure 1 shows the main roles, surrounding modules and business functions supported.

automatic_billing_system_urbanwater

Roles

  • For the Customer we can differentiate different categories like residential (household), commercial & industrial (C&I) or agricultural. Usually customers have different tariffs and prices for the water consumption.

On the utility provider site three different roles are shown which makes use of the system.

  • The Metering Operations unit takes care of the water distribution network. It operates a smart meter infrastructure and takes care of the infrastructure for leakage detection and overload prevention. In the project the metering infrastructure will be provided via WP2 (Smart Meter) and WP3 (Data Management Platform). The metering operations unit might use the adaptive pricing systems (APS) attached to the ABS to influence the consumption behaviour (load curve) on customer site.
  • The Sales & Marketing unit can maintain central tariffs with different rates suited to different customers. For example time of use (ToU) with different price for on- and off-peak hours might be defined or fully dynamic prices. The motivation is share the real-cost for the water supply with the customer. A tariff and price configuration tool will be offered along with the ABS to allow the flexible definition of new tariffs and prices for dedicated customer segements. The adaptive pricing mechanisms used by metering operations for load balancing unit can be integrated here.  More than this sales & marketing unit can define bundles and value added services to be sold along with the water supply services.

Typical valued added services are combined with the customer empowerment tools to achieve a reasonable usage of water resources on customer site. Customers can for example receive notifications if consumption is too high or the monthly costs have increased above a certain limit via an online platform.

  • The Customer Service Representative (CSR) is the first contact point for the customer in case of question with regard to new tariffs offering for value added services, billing and payment related issues. For this the ABS can be integrated with existing CIS systems of the utility provider. Within the project this integration is not done but the interfaces for this will be specified.

 

Functions

The core functional blocks are displayed as block in the ABS. The Meter Read function enables the processing of meter read data from the smart meter infrastructure. Typically a Web Service will be used to access a Data Management Platform (data warehouse) to retrieve interval data (i.e 24 hourly values per Meter per day). For mass data deployments a file based transfer might be foreseen.

  • The Rating & Charging function enables the ABS to determine the cost for every meter read received with considering the actual tariff and price of sold to the customer.
  • The Threshold Events function enables the triggering of notification messages if a threshold level based on consumption and/or costs is reached.
  • The Notification / Provisioning function enables delivery of customer notifications based on threshold or price update events. The provisioning function is to update the price in a home automation devices to control loads based on prices (i.e. washing machine switches on a at low water price).
  • The Customer Service function enables the access to detailed data on rated meter data, prices and tariffs. In addition it allows the booking (activation) of value added services.
  • The Customer Management functions are used by the CSR to create customers, sell products, tariffs and value added services. In addition billing information can be reviewed.
  • The Invoice Reports functions are used by the CSR to create produce customer invoices. Based on a detailed usage reports sales & marketing can prepare new offerings.
  • The Dynamic Prices & Tariffs function is used to insert new tariffs and prices into the ABS. For standard tariff schemas templates exists.
  • The Price Update function is used to frequently updated price information for adaptive pricing scenarios to achieve load balancing.