In 2008, American Conservation & Billing Solutions, Inc. (AmCoBi) launched its multifamily utility billing business. We offered third party billing services to multifamily complexes--apartments, condominiums, and affordable housing.
Many of the complexes we billed had implemented utility submetering systems. These metering systems were capable of recording hourly/daily usage values for water, electricity, and gas. The data could be accessed remotely and were of tremendous interest to our engineering team.
Members of our team had previously worked in the network testing industry and had developed software applications to evaluate massive volumes of network traffic data. Their hardware and software systems identified problems that caused data networks to fail or operate inefficiently.
They believed some of the same analytical methods used for network troubleshooting could be applied to utility consumption data. And since submetering systems did not offer any capabilities to evaluate usage data, they developed a series of programs to do so.
These programs analyzed water, electric, and gas consumption values to determine when a residence might be experiencing:
- A water leak
- Failing HVAC equipment
- Wasteful electric usage and more.
When problems were identified, our team would contact the property owner or manager. We were routinely catching problems that otherwise would have caused property damage or unnecessary utility expense. Our multifamily clients loved the notifications and their residents were soon requesting alerts too.
About the same time, AmCoBi started providing billing services to smaller water utilities. Some of these organizations had implemented fixed base Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) systems that could also gather hourly/daily consumption data. Some had Automated Meter Reading (AMR) systems that recorded reads on a monthly or bimonthly basis.
In either case, and probably as a result of the customer engagement solutions being implemented by electric utilities, more and more water and gas providers were looking to provide a way for their consumers to leverage the data being collected by these "smart" metering systems.
They wanted tools to help customers:
- Better understand how they're using water, gas, and electricity
- Answer their own questions
- Manage their utility expenses
- Identify ways to be more efficient.
In 2010, AmCoBi launched our customer portal solutions: AquaHawk Alerting for water utilities and UtilityHawk for electric and naturgal gas providers. It enabled utilities to present usage information in a secure, password-protected website. It integrated data from the utility's metering system, its billing or accounting application, and local weather stations.
Knowing that there were a variety of different manufacturers developing and implementing meter reading systems, AmCoBi made the strategic decision to be vendor-neutral or platform independent. AquaHawk can integrate consumption data from any commercial AMI/AMR system.
World-class Leak Detection
Having spent years performing statistical analysis on water consumption data, our team developed a sophisticated set of tools for identifying potential leaks. We evaluate consumption data on an account-by-account basis and apply different leak filters for different account types.
Because AquaHawk integrates with leading AMI systems, we've been able to compare our leak detection results with other solutions. Our system is not only more accurate but it also ignores issues that other systems incorrectly flag as problems. With AquaHawk, your organization will spend less time managing the leak detection and notification process.
Proactive Customer Notification
We learned quickly that accurately detecting leaks is just the beginning. We also needed an integrated workflow process that enables utility staff members to:
- Notify customers in their preferred communications mode
- Keep a record of actions that have been performed for the customer
- Enable the customer to communicate back to the utility
- Track problems to a resolution.
The process needed to be easily manageable by utility employees.
The AmCoBi Difference
We develop world class software that's reliable. We design our applications so they're intuitive and user-friendly. We include high value capabilities that your utility, and its customers, will actually use. We de-skill complex processes so that they're immediately understandable and manageable…not by engineers but by you.
We deliver world class training and support. We don't want you to purchase our software and park it on the shelf. We'll give you the guidance and assistance you need to understand and operate our consumer engagement system like a pro.
You have a voice in our organization. Every one of our clients has contributed ideas and suggestions that have been incorporated into the portal application. We may not get every feature and function right on the first go, but we are obsessive about continuous improvement.
Our software applications will be better this week, than the were last.
Our team has been in the software industry, collectively, for decades. We have a clear understanding of what works and what doesn't. And we are world class listeners.
We hope you'll check out our solutions and give us call. We expect it will dramatically enhance the online services you offer your clients, and create a better customer experience.
When it comes to helping consumers understand how they're using utilities, and what they can do to be more efficient, you'll be hard pressed to find a solution that does it better.
And the best news is…it's affordable!