Meter team uses Navigator to create smarter routes

Meter team uses Navigator to create smarter routes

At WHUD, we’re always looking for ways to better serve our customers, and this past December, our meter department did just that by implementing a GIS (geographic information system) application to help with routing. The system has made reading routes faster, easier and far more efficient, freeing the meter team up to respond to more service requests from customers.

Key to this new process is the District’s long-time use of GIS. Since the early 90s, WHUD has leaned on GIS to manage operations and improve service to our 100,000+ customers. With just six full-time meter technicians to cover the District’s 600+ square miles, the meter department began exploring ways to build smarter routes that anyone could follow, regardless of if the person had been reading for two days or 10 years.

With GIS serving as the database of record for the District, it made sense to look there first for a solution. And it worked. Navigator, an advanced mobile navigation application offered as an add-on to our GIS system, seemed to offer a great solution – the ability to build custom routes that provide turn-by-turn directions with custom-created stops at the meter locations. The maps can be accessed online or offline, an added benefit given the poor cell service through parts of the rural service area, and they can be quickly imported into a mobile device by scanning a QR code assigned to the route.

Using Navigator for meter route management has offered numerous benefits to our meter department, including:

  • Documented and easy to download meter routes – prior to the use of Navigator, the District relied heavily on institutional knowledge to read routes.
  • The ability to load assets on to the map and get turn-by-turn directions to the exact location of the meter – many meters are in rural, secluded areas and difficult to locate if you aren’t familiar with the particular area. The map shows the vehicle location in relation to the asset for quick and easy navigation.
  • The application works for manual and radio read routes. Previously, manual routes were based almost entirely on memory.
  • Faster onboarding time frame for new employees or those who are new to a particular route – WHUD has more than 100 new development projects every year. Relying on memory is no longer an option for meter reading.

While implementation of Navigator as a routing tools is still in its infancy, the benefits are already being felt. Having the turn-by-turn navigation allows the meter techs to focus on the readings coming in, and those that aren’t registering. It’s also freeing them up to respond more quickly to service requests and improve our level of service to customers.