Walbridge oversaw one of the largest automatic meter-reading (AMR) installation and retrofitting projects of its kind in the United States (from 2007 to 2010).
The $154 million project included installing or retrofitting approximately 278,000 water meters and integrating them with an electronic data transmission system used to track water and sewerage utilization across the city. It also included installation of a workforce management system and a call center.
Working with Weiss and Hale, the project team coordinated meter installations and/or retrofits and installation of thousands of transmission antennas across Detroit’s 139 square miles. Some 160,000 meters, which had been installed in homes prior to 1996, had to be replaced and approximately 115,000 meters, which had been installed in residences after 1996, had to be retrofitted. Meters in 3,000 local businesses, including restaurants, hotels and churches, had to be upgraded as well.
Access to basements, crawl spaces and furnace rooms had to be granted so workers could install new meters or convert existing meters. Workers affixed a transmitter box to the side of a house or business, and then connected a wire from the transmitter to the meter. A signal would send data from the transmitter to a nearby antenna, which would then feed into Detroit Water and Sewerage Department’s main database.
The goal of the program was to eliminate billing based on estimates of water and sewerage utilization, and, instead, rely on technology to gain remote, accurate readings of household and business usage.