Oracle Seizes the Moment

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2010-01-13 Print this article Print


Oracle Seizes the Moment

Not to be outdone in what could become a big market for IT vendors supplying technology for smart systems, Oracle has released a report on smart water management and the need for smart metering technologies.

On Jan. 11, Oracle announced the results of its report titled "Testing the Water: Smart Metering for Water Utilities," which surveyed more than 1,200 water consumers and 300 water utility managers in the United States and Canada to examine water utility managers' perception of, and future plans for, smart meter technology, including benefits and potential obstacles, and water consumers' perception of their water use, motivations for conservation and what they feel they need from their water utilities.

"Smart grid and smart metering has received a lot of buzz in recent months-with electric utilities receiving most of the spotlight," said Stephan Scholl, senior vice president and general manager of Oracle Utilities. "However, water utilities also face aging infrastructures, sustainability challenges and customer demand for better service. Oracle's -Testing the Water' report indicates that while water utilities realize that smart meter technologies can have a big impact on their business, there is a greater need to focus on consumer education and communication. Smart meter technologies can produce the actionable data required to provide consumers with information they can use to make smarter decisions about water consumption."

According to the Oracle report, 76 percent of consumers said they are concerned about the need to conserve water in their community, 69 percent of consumers said they believe they could reduce their personal water use, and 71 percent of consumers said they believe having access to detailed usage data would encourage them to take steps to lower water use.

As for water utility managers, 73 percent said their utility actively promotes water conservation. And 68 percent said they believe it is critical that water utilities adopt smart meter technologies, but only one-third said they are currently considering or implementing smart meter technologies.

Moreover, when asked to select the top two most significant benefits of smart meter technology deployment, water utility managers cited enabling early leak detection as the biggest benefit, followed by supplying customers with tools to monitor or reduce water use. The managers said the top two roadblocks to greater implementation of smart metering systems are lack of cost recovery or measurable return on investment, and upfront utility expenses.

"At Las Vegas Valley Water District, we have learned that providing consumers with useful information about conservation really does drive behavior change," said Alisa Mann, customer services manager for the Las Vegas Valley Water District, in a statement. "The -Testing the Water' report provides important data on the challenges and benefits associated with implementing smart meter technologies. Cost is an enormous factor, but many water utilities fail to see the huge impact smart meter technologies can have on their bottom line. It's not just about reducing truck rolls-it's about helping customers make better choices and improving efficiency throughout the business." 

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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