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City of Wilmington adopting FATHOM Smart Grid for Water: Win-win for city, customers

Source: 
The News Journal

WILMINGTON — The City of Wilmington is modernizing its utility billing customer service for its residents through a partnership with FATHOM, using its Smart Grid for Water.

Phoenix, Ariz.-based FATHOM has been guiding small- to medium-sized cities across the country in using proven, cutting-edge technology to improve operations and service to the customers for a decade, according to a news release by City of Wilmington Safety-Service Director Brian Shidaker.

The Smart Grid for Water was developed by a water utility in Arizona to maximize its resources and customer service. The lessons used led to FATHOM offering the services to other utilities.

“This exciting, long-term partnership will allow the city to run our utility services more efficiently while providing customers with tools to easily manage their accounts and usage,” said Wilmington Mayor John Stanforth.

Background work began in January, and the entire project should be completed before winter. The modernization will includes many facets:

• Updated, more accurate water meters for nearly all Wilmington water customers.

• An automated meter read system that will eliminate the need for city personnel to enter private property for this task.

• An overhauled utility billing system, which includes using FATHOM’s Smart Grid to validate data and ensure all customers are billed accurately and fairly.

• A web-based system for customers to monitor usage along with other tools.

• The ability for customers to sign up for alerts of unusually high usage, possible leaks in household plumbing, and other anomalies.

• An automated service order system to allow the City respond to customer’s problems more efficiently.

“We have recognized the need to update our metering and billing system for the past couple years, but needed a proven partner who could help complete this project without requiring a rate increase, and we found that partner in FATHOM,” said Shidaker.

Customers will soon receive notifications about the meter change-out process. No new wiring or plumbing, except in rare instances, will be needed. The change will be made at no cost to the customer.

The city’s existing water metering system will be upgraded to state-of-the-art infrastructure by another long-time FATHOM and Wilmington partner, Master Meter.

This upgrade will deliver 720 meter reads per month for every meter, and eliminate the need for city staff to obtain manual meter reads. This technology will deliver real-time information to drive decision making, and real-time analytics to proactively identify costly issues such as water leaks and even water theft.

The new system will address discrepancies in the city’s billing system and provide an easy-to-use customer portal for residents to access their account information 24/7, see water usage data, pay bills, view payment history, and sign up for alerts and notifications.

With alerting capabilities, the city expects to reduce the number of bill adjustments required and help customers avoid unexpected high bills. With FATHOM, Wilmington customers will have more ways to pay their bill and receive proactive reminders to pay – reducing the risk of having services disconnected.

“We are excited to partner with FATHOM to deliver excellent service to our residents and receive critical, real-time data and analytics to drive important decisions about the future of affordable water in Wilmington,” said Water Superintendent Rick Schaffer.

“The Smart Grid for Water was developed to better manage capital investment, improve efficiency, and enhance customer service when we owned utilities,” said FATHOM President and Chief Growth Officer, Jason Bethke. “Today, we look forward to delivering The Smart Grid for Water to the City of Wilmington to help them become a more sustainable community. We are delighted that Wilmington has decided to join our growing community of innovative water utilities,”

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