Posted on Tuesday, June 2, 2020 by Ramón López Farías

Remote meter reading: Security in times of crisis

A COVID-19 status report from Spain

Spain is one of the European countries that have been affected the most by the COVID-19 pandemic. And if there’s something we have learned from this crisis, it is the importance of social distancing to prevent contagion. Governments around the world have asked their citizens to avoid leaving their homes except for essential issues and to maintain a safe distance from each other to prevent the spread of the virus.

These measures represent a huge problem for the traditional way of reading consumption meters in Spain. In most cases, this requires that someone from the local utility enters the private homes manually read the meter - with the consequent risk of contagion. During the period with quarantine measures, the meter readings must be postponed, with the consequent problem for both the utility and the consumers, since the billing data will not be in line with the actual consumption.

Remote meter reading as a safety and health measure in a time of crisis
Remote reading systems allows us to maintain the required social distance. Readings can continue as usual, without putting workers or consumers at risk, as the meter reading staff do not have to be in the same physical space as the meter. This ensures the safety of workers and consumers, as well as the reliability of readings and, consequently, the billing accuracy, without violating the established confinement measures.

One of the few places where many people continue to be gather during the current pandemic is in the wholesale fresh food markets, such as Mercapalma, the largest market centre for agri-food products in the Balearic Islands. Because these centres remain open, food is never scarce for the population.

Ensuring the health and safety of essential workforce at this centers has therefore become a vital necessity. At Mercapalma, more than 150 companies have relied on Kamstrup smart water meters to control their water consumption. Ramón Navarro, Head of Systems, says that he has always believed in the importance of remote meter reading but today, and with the situation we are in, he says that he cannot "be more satisfied with the choice made". Meter reading and consumption control is not an added problem as it can be done remotely, without hindering the daily market activities.

We stopped it at home
The general population has become aware of the importance of confinement to stop the expansion of COVID-19. From large cities to smaller towns, neighbors have been isolated in their homes to try to flatten the contagion curve. This has been done, for example, by the neighbours of Santa María de Palautordera in the Barcelona area.

Nearly 200 Kamstrup meters with fully automatic reading have already been installed in this town. Municipal Technical Engineer Antonio Puerta assures that now more than ever he sees the need to expand remote reading to the rest of the population, thus ensuring the protection of all consumers. "No one wants people to come into their homes, nor do they want estimated bills. This pandemic has reinforce the importance of remote meter reading" he says. Neighbors continue to have  accurate readings while still complying with the required social distancing measures.


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