As the Grand River flows, so does the beer in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Nicknamed “Beer City USA,” Grand Rapids boasts more than 80 breweries and a thriving entrepreneurial community. This innovative atmosphere inspires city service leaders to constantly ask, “What more can we do?” For the city on the river that runs into Lake Michigan, the answer aptly begins – but doesn’t end – with water.
When Grand Rapids’ water metering infrastructure started to show its age, the city’s water utility didn’t hesitate to plan for the future. It began a meter replacement program – one that would enhance its vision for a smart city built on data and connectivity. A longtime customer of Sensus, a Xylem brand, the City of Grand Rapids knew just who to turn to for a smart utility network.
“With data at every point, we can see how water moves through our system and proactively address services for customers,” said Nicole Pasch, the City’s acting assistant environmental services manager.
Grand Rapids’ upgrade of 80,000 endpoints includes iPERL® residential water meters, OMNI™ commercial meters and connecting to customer-owned sewer meters. The utility also is looking to install ally™ residential meters for additional pressure information at some accounts. The Sensus FlexNet® communication network, an advanced two-way system offering secure, reliable data transmission, will drive fast, accurate meter data collection.
“The ability to connect assets allows us to increase efficiency and build sustainably for the long-term, eliminating extra investments in towers or other hardware redundancies that might exist with separate utility networks,” Pasch said. “By freeing up expenses, we’ll invest those resources back into programs that make a positive impact on the community.”
With 10,000 iPERL water meters deployed and counting, Grand Rapids also is exploring new ways to leverage the enhanced connectivity of the FlexNet system. The City is in the provisional review phase of upgrading its 18,000 streetlights with LED lighting and using the Sensus VantagePoint® Lighting Control paired with its network. City staff will receive information about the location of fixtures, light quality and system outages.
“As we continue to gather data and add new applications, we can refine our operations in a way that moves us closer to our goal of becoming a fully integrated utility,” Pasch said.