The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) protects public health and the environment by supplying clean drinking water, collecting and treating wastewater, and reducing air, noise, and hazardous materials pollution. DEP commissioned a program to equip every water meter in the City of New York with an active transmission unit to enable automated meter reading. The program was essential not only to improve service levels and the efficiency of operations. The data is needed to help plan water capacity and distribution models for a city population expected to grow by as many as one million people in the next ten years.
DEP approached SVAM with a problem. They had arranged for all the needed components to install the devices to enable automated meter reading. But with all the pieces in place, there was no framework to coordinate a massive deployment of a complex initiative among the separate organizations needed to make it a reality.
DEP had contracted with a large government contractor to build the city-wide wireless network for reading the devices, transmission unit and meter manufacturers, and multiple installation contractors to install the devices. But there was no unifying way to coordinate all the players who had to integrate activities to meet an aggressive schedule.
SVAM worked with DEP leaders to whiteboard the broad functional needs and possible solutions. SVAM designed and built an application that allowed the contractors to plan and execute their activities in a coordinated way. The planned installation gave component suppliers a view into needed delivery dates and inventory requirements. The consolidated plan and implementation gave DEP leaders full transparency into status and resources consumed and required. Property owners had the benefit of setting scheduled appointments at their convenience for access to their properties. The system kept track of work completed and was used to trigger payment to the participating contractors and suppliers. This collaboration platform was built on Microsoft’s .NET framework to integrate into DEP’s architecture. The project made use of an agile approach to accommodate an aggressive schedule, with problem statement to delivery taking just five months.
With the rapid delivery of the collaboration platform, DEP was able to begin the rollout quickly. The full installation of devices took just under 3 years, consisting of over 850,000 transmission units, many requiring a meter upgrade as well, across the 300 square miles of city land. By addressing systemic inefficiencies, the solution was able to improve process complexity and delays that the City Comptroller’s office estimated to cost $24M, with recurring benefits for billing, payment, and cash flow continuing to grow. Estimated bills, a common source of property owner complaints and late payments, have been reduced by over 99%.