Wellington, FL deploys municipal Wi-Fi network for wireless AMR

Wellington, Florida is rolling out a municipal wireless broadband network throughout its 40 square mile (103 square kilometer) area for wireless automated meter reading (AMR) and monitoring of lift stations. I spoke to Tom Amburguey, CIO for Wellington about the project.

Amburguey says that in the past, the municipality read meters by having employees drive by people’s homes. The biggest problem with this old-fashioned method is that lot of mistakes are made in reading the meters. So the city decided to replace the old meters with Badger Meters equipped with transmitters that talk to Tropos wireless mesh nodes mounted on light poles. Amburguey estimates they will need 200 mesh nodes for the project. The city can read water meters in real time, as well as detect leaks. They expect installation to be completed in six months.

Wellington is an affluent community outside West Palm Beach. It has 60,000 residents and much of the land is devoted to equestrian pursuits. The city will be installing almost 20,000 new water meters. At present, the city will not be offering free Wi-Fi access, but they plan to use the citywide Wi-Fi network to enable employees who work from the field to do their jobs more efficiently at a lower cost. Wellington has employees who still use cellular “air cards” on their laptops to work remotely. In the future, the city plans to terminate these subscriptions and have the employees use the city’s wireless network.

The entire project will cost the city $4.3 million (that amount includes equipment, installation, and project management). The city is using BIG Wireless LLC to design and deploy the network. The city estimates that it will recoup its investment within eight years just from the money they save by detecting and plugging water leaks.

Related stories:

AMR / AMI network deployment basics

South Carolina city uses muni wireless for energy management, public safety, free WiFi

Ponca City, Oklahoma blends municipal wireless with energy management

Wireless meter reading expected to save $18.7M

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  1. Dennis Holmes says

    Wow Tropos is now saying they can cover 40 square miles with 200 APs. That’s very interesting math! With a range of 600-1000 feet per AP client service side, wouldn’t you need approximately 1000 to 1200 APs? I hope all due diligence has been done here. The last thing the Muni community needs is another fiasco on our hands. I hope they are only covering critical streets and areas of mass meters. That would make sense.

  2. This IS definitely on the low side for node density. But so much depends on the client and the topology. With few trees, flat terrain and a very high power client .. this COULD work. But it does seem to be underengineered.