CES 2020: Why smart cities are relying on IoT sensors to conserve water

TechRepublic's Karen Roby talked to Scott Williamson, CEO of Capstone Metering, at CES 2020 about new technologies in the Internet of Things (IoT), water metering, and how they can help save water. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

Scott: Williamson: What IoT means for us is the technology is finally here where everyone understands what IoT is. Everyone's got a handle on what IoTs begin to mean to implement. Now, we're talking about, what do we do, what are the solutions that can become a part of the city? In our case, it's water, smart technologies for the different pieces of a water technologies bring that together.

SEE: CES 2020: The big trends for business (ZDNet/TechRepublic special feature)

Karen Roby: When we talked about this a little bit off camera, Scott, IoT is not just something, a buzzword that's thrown around anymore. People are really starting to understand it, the technology, and what it means.

Scott: Williamson: Yes. In our case, we're a 100-year-old industry. Water meter technology had not advanced, and even in that, it was private networks, it was solutions that went to someone's computer and office. That's all changed, and there's models coming out where it's in the cloud. It's all cellular-based. It's all IP [internet protocol] technology, so we have direct communication to devices themselves. That's never happened until now.

Karen Roby: Talk a little bit more about smart cities and water programs within the cities, how you guys come into play and how IoT, specifically, is helping.

Scott: Williamson: Specifically, what we bring with a water technology in a cloud platform, i.e. IoT solutions, what we do is we come in and we analyze what's happening within the city infrastructure by putting sensors in, we begin to understand how not only if you control and monitor the water for efficiencies there, now it's in how do we reduce truck rolls, how do we improve customer service? How do we push the data directly to the customer so they know how much water they're losing?

Today we have solutions natively that we offer that the customer actually has an app from their phone, so they're able to look to see what their water usage is and whether or not they have a leak--that's never been done.

Karen Roby: Talk about how 5G is enabling you guys to do your work and on a different platform.

Scott: Williamson: 5G to us is something that we've been doing for a while because we use NB-IoT and LTE-M platforms on cellular, which is a part of what 5G is going to be when it fully develops, which is something that we're already on. I've been using it for a couple of years now. That allows us to have direct communication and direct access to a data swap from the unit with command and control. That's a piece that's now here that allows us to push all the way down to turn the meter off, as an example, for either a leak, or non-payment, or any number of things without having to roll the trucks, that's now here.

Also see