Speaking exclusively to Muscat Daily , Hilal Ali Saif al Abri, Metering Manager – Muscat at the Directorate General of Customer Services in Diam, said, “As part of a pilot project we are installing smart meters in Musandam. The project began in November and is seeing the installation of 9,500 smart meters. The project will get over by February.”
Abri said that the pilot project in Musandam began with the installation of ten water meters. “It was done on an experiment basis. The project was carried out by a team of Omani experts from Diam in cooperation with an Omani company.
“We chose Musandam as many of the homes there are located in remote areas and in the mountains. It takes us lots of time and effort to visit such areas to take meter readings.”
Talking about the purpose of the project, he said, “The smart meter system will enable Diam to obtain accurate, hourly meter readings from customers automatically.”
The number of consumers in Oman as part of the Diam network has touched 500,000, going up by ten per cent annually. He said that the new system automatically collects consumption data from water meters and transfers them to a central database for billing, troubleshooting and evaluation.
“This technology mainly saves utility providers the expense of periodic visits to each location to read a meter.”
Another advantage is that billing can be based on near real-time consumption rather than on estimates on past or predicted consumption. “Customers will get monthly bills either through text messages or the Diam website. It can be even accessed via email or through the e-services section of Diam portal.”
He said that the smart meter system can help to rationalise consumption. “We can even identify the leaks to cut down on water distribution losses.”
Abri said that Oman is the first GCC country to use this system. “We brought this technology from Europe. We have had difficulty in installing the meters in Musandam because some houses are located in remote areas.
“Some people were hesitant to install the meters because they thought that their water bills will go up. But, we overcame those by persuading people to accept the new meters. We will use the new Internet of things (IoT) to implement the technology (end-to-end machine).
“Diam is bearing the costs of installing these new meters as part of the e-transformation initiative. We also urge consumers to rationalise water consumption and report complaints through our call centre at 1442 which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”