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Yet another way to IOT public utilities expenses for end users.

Image credit: AI-generated images based on product description.

Marco Agudelo
Marco Agudelo Aug 28, 2022
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How easy it would be to literally see the public utility meters numbers, connect to a public utility server to take the end user price per kilowatt or cubic liter for example and keep a real time balance sheet capable of giving valuable insight to customers. Using the analogy of a pal that is keeping an eye on your mandatory expenses, let's call it PU-PAL.
In order to control public utilities expenses trying not to fall into an austere living, end users may have the possibility of using an electronic device and their phones, as a medium to get valuable insight based on the information of their services by reading directly the utility meters with a IOT device. Information like:
  • How many days (or any other unit of time) remains to reach a preset percentage value of past month expenses.
  • Time to reach a preset tipping point.
  • How fast is it consuming and at what time of the day.
  • What is the minimum consumption and at what time.
  • Further statistics to modulate the use of public utilities or set aside incomes for future spending (for example when family or friends visits on vacation).
How it Works
Design and manufacture an electronic device with a prism system that being installed on top of the utility meter allows both an electronic sight and a human sight of the counting value (for human control).
The device could receive external electric power to keep it simple as the first viable model.
The device is capable of identifying through real time optimized computer vision the measuring and sending messages to a PU-PAL server.
The device is capable of connecting to the internet by any means actually available. WiFi, GPRS, etc.
The data access layer would be composed of the described server and at least other servers capable of connecting to public utility user information.
PU-PAL will require additional assets for analyzed data, control the frequency for requiring measured data per users and in this way classify various types of pay-per-service business model, stored user information, and further possible needs.
PU-PAL front-end reports intelligent insights to end users.
Do you find it useful, necessary? Do you identify any advantages in using it?
Do you agree with the PU-PAL name, do you think it could have legal problems, would you suggest another one?
Do you think public utilities providers will encourage the use of such a device?
What other functionalities you identify the product could have?


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General comments

Povilas S
Povilas S2 years ago
Does your idea concern exclusively mechanical counters? Cause it seems you propose an additional device to convert the counter data into digital form. I mean if the counter is electronic, it should be easy to simply connect it to the internet (you might need an adapter of sorts) and send the data in digital form directly from the counter.
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Marco Agudelo
Marco Agudelo2 years ago
Povilas S hi, please take a look into this , Smart metering.
If there is a physical connection to take out information it will be too, a way to take in information. In this example regulate power consumption. Interesting.


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Marco Agudelo
Marco Agudelo2 years ago
Povilas S Well not exclusive to mechanical counters, as any counter will have a readable interface. To my understanding all public utilities are visited in person and read into a control instrument that sends the information to the public utility center. I agree with you that if the counter is electronic could have a comm port into which one could take the information as well, but this would: exclude the mechanical utility meters, will require at least a business venture with utility meters suppliers, replace all non electronic meters with communication port enable, maintain a complex infrastructure to avoid hacking, to name a few.
If the device with aid of computer vision only reads the numbers without blocking human supervision, I think you can start providing the service at least as a minimum viable product stage avoiding most of the business and technical problems.
If the utility meters already have the communication option available one could avoid the hardware expense. One should analyze the technical cost of decoding each utility meter brand data pack. But if the meter is a mechanical one, the hardware could be provided. And just by providing the proposed hardware to local companies or startups, they could install them in their areas and build their own internet infrastructure that connects to public utility providers (which will vary from country to country and in some places from city to city). Which also avoids a further complex data integration that would be to manage a bigger public utility network.
A down side could be that public utility suppliers may argue that this kind of equipment or even that connecting to their meters, could lead to error in metering or any kind of fraud but I guess all that could be more a corruption problem than something else.
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