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Case Study

Long Beach Grows with the Sensus FlexNet Communication Network

California utility deploys AMI solution for dependability and customer security

The City of Long Beach, which sits just 22 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, is routinely rated as one of the most walkable cities in the country. It’s a city where people are always on the move to check out a local gallery in the East Village Arts District or make their way across campus at the local California State University campus.

“Long Beach has a high-density population and pedestrian friendly streets that can make it feel like a small town,” said Long Beach Energy Resources Business Operations Analyst Renee Williams.

Years ago, meter readers were among the walkers, going house to house to collect usage readings. More recently, new technologies and a growing population have changed the face of gas service delivery to residents and businesses in its eight neighborhood districts.

“We enjoy having a tight-knit community, but it’s important for us to respect our city’s size and growth when it gets down to serving customers,” said Williams.

Time for change

The journey to technological advancement began with the adoption of a mesh network that allowed communication between the city and more than 156,000 meters via publicly available spectrum. The system opened the doors for remote meter monitoring and management but failed to meet growing security requirements.

“In the midst of high-density growth and development, data privacy is our chief priority,” said Williams. “We felt that transitioning to a system with a privately licensed network would help to protect customer data while also improving metering accuracy.”

A Long Beach Energy Resources field technician uses a handheld device to communicate with a gas Smartpoint.

Long Beach decided to upgrade its gas utility infrastructure and wanted a solution that would offer benefits beyond security. The city transitioned to a next-generation advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) solution from Sensus, a Xylem brand, that would address current needs, boost efficiency and establish tools for future growth.

Finding the right fit

In 2014, the city began deploying its Sensus AMI solution with R-275 and 415 gas meters and the SmartPoint® GM transceiver to serve customers. Running on the two-way FlexNet® communication network, the system enables reliable end-to-end communications and data integrity over a radio spectrum that is protected from interference. The network solution has proven dependable and accurate for the city from the start.

“In the five years since we installed the system, we’ve had outstanding read rate success across our Sensus meters,” said Williams. “Consistently accurate data is a huge asset, particularly when you combine that with the extra privacy it ensures for our customers.”

With its sizable university population, Long Beach service technicians used to make frequent trips to address the ever-changing student population. The new system has helped the city address this time-consuming process with on-demand capabilities.

We’ve seen how the Sensus solution benefits our gas services, so it made perfect sense for us to extend the system. Being able to unite water and gas meters this seamlessly really underscores the value the system brings in helping us maximize our investment.” – Renee Williams, Business Operations Analyst, City of Long Beach

“We’ve eliminated about 80 truck rolls per-day using the Sensus AMI solution,” said Williams. “We now have a soft-off policy that allows staff to monitor meters remotely as residents transition between properties, saving us two trips to manually shut down and re-start the meter.”

Unification and expansion

Since its successful rollout was completed in 2017, the City of Long Beach decided to move forward with the transition of water meters across 90,000 endpoints to the same system it uses for gas. The city is able to make this move with no additional infrastructure or service costs.

“We’ve seen how the Sensus solution benefits our gas services, so it made perfect sense for us to extend the system,” said Williams. “Being able to unite water and gas meters this seamlessly really underscores the value the system brings in helping us maximize our investment.”

The City of Long Beach is also conducting a pilot with an upcoming residential gas meter to continuously improve customer service. The utility team will continue to explore new solutions that will keep the city on an innovative trajectory.

“Thanks to the flexibility and ease-of-deployment we have with our system, we’ll be able to keep up with growth and offer the latest technology benefits to our customers,” said Williams.

Transition from mesh network to secure, licensed network for customer data protection

Deploy Sensus AMI solution with the FlexNet communication network

Reach Farther:
Add water meters to existing network

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