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Most water meters located inside recessed pits at the front of the property edge are in better weather climate zones, such as in the lower mainland of British Columbia.

But the legacy pit lids are made of concrete with rebar reinforcement or cast steel. So they are not very friendly to allow radios signals to propagate outside of the pits.

The answer to this problem comes in two separate solutions that can be combined for the best results.

First, change the pit lid to one that is made with an engineered polymer material.

Second, mount the radio itself, or an antenna connected to the radio, directly to the pit lid at a position were an ‘knockout’ is located to allow the radio signals to escape the pit.

Yes, it can be made to work with the legacy lids, but there is a huge decibel penalty for the RF signal to escape the pit. The result of this signal attenuation is shorter range between the endpoints and the gateways meaning your radio coverage is impaired and more gateways are needed, and worse case scenarios for penetration into the pit resulting in intermittent connections.

Key Points

Pit lids, also known as meter box covers, are an important consideration for smart water meter radio propagation in Canada due to several factors:

  1. Signal Penetration: Smart water meters typically use wireless communication technologies such as radio frequency (RF) to transmit data. The pit lid material can affect the signal penetration capabilities. If the lid is made of a material that blocks or significantly attenuates RF signals, it can hinder the communication between the water meter and the external network. Therefore, choosing the appropriate lid material is crucial to ensure optimal signal propagation.
  2. Interference Reduction: Pit lids can help reduce interference from external sources. In urban environments, there are various wireless devices and networks operating simultaneously, such as Wi-Fi, cellular networks, and other IoT devices. If the lid material has properties that shield or minimize interference from these external sources, it can enhance the reliability and accuracy of the smart water meter’s communication.
  3. Environmental Factors: Canada experiences diverse weather conditions throughout the year, including extreme cold in some regions. Pit lids need to be designed to withstand these environmental factors. If the lid material is not resistant to temperature fluctuations or moisture, it may degrade over time, leading to signal degradation and potential communication issues.
  4. Security and Accessibility: Pit lids also play a role in protecting the smart water meter from unauthorized access and tampering. A secure and robust lid design can prevent unauthorized individuals from interfering with the meter’s functionality or tampering with the data transmitted. Additionally, the lid should provide easy access for authorized personnel during maintenance and reading operations.

Considering these factors, the selection of pit lids for smart water meters in Canada becomes important to ensure reliable and efficient communication between the meters and the central data collection system. It is crucial to choose lids that are designed to facilitate optimal signal propagation, reduce interference, withstand environmental conditions, and provide adequate security measures.

About the Author:

Michael Martin is the Vice President of Technology with Metercor Inc., a Smart Meter, IoT, and Smart City systems integrator based in Canada. He has more than 40 years of experience in systems design for applications that use broadband networks, optical fibre, wireless, and digital communications technologies. He is a business and technology consultant. He was a senior executive consultant for 15 years with IBM, where he worked in the GBS Global Center of Competency for Energy and Utilities and the GTS Global Center of Excellence for Energy and Utilities. He is a founding partner and President of MICAN Communications and before that was President of Comlink Systems Limited and Ensat Broadcast Services, Inc., both divisions of Cygnal Technologies Corporation (CYN: TSX). Martin served on the Board of Directors for TeraGo Inc (TGO: TSX) and on the Board of Directors for Avante Logixx Inc. (XX: TSX.V).  He has served as a Member, SCC ISO-IEC JTC 1/SC-41 – Internet of Things and related technologies, ISO – International Organization for Standardization, and as a member of the NIST SP 500-325 Fog Computing Conceptual Model, National Institute of Standards and Technology. He served on the Board of Governors of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) [now OntarioTech University] and on the Board of Advisers of five different Colleges in Ontario.  For 16 years he served on the Board of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), Toronto Section.  He holds three master’s degrees, in business (MBA), communication (MA), and education (MEd). As well, he has three undergraduate diplomas and five certifications in business, computer programming, internetworking, project management, media, photography, and communication technology. He has completed over 30 next generation MOOC continuous education in IoT, Cloud, AI and Cognitive systems, Blockchain, Agile, Big Data, Design Thinking, Security, Indigenous Canada awareness, and more.