As we move into full hurricane season in the state of Texas and the southwest, utilities and cities are preparing for the severe weather and the associated risks. CenterPoint Energy, headquartered in Houston expects new smart grid solutions it started rolling out earlier this year to help shorten and better mange power outages.
The city of Corpus Christi is also leveraging its wireless broadband network (also used simultaneously for automated meter reading and smart grid applications) from Tropos during this hurricane season by connecting IP video cameras to the network. Recently, these cameras monitored Hurricane Alex and provided real-time visibility for the community, enhancing public safety and benefiting citizens. The feeds were so accurate, they were even utilized by the Weather Channel! (Stay tuned for a link to the footage.)
Some extra background on Corpus Christi:
In 2005, Corpus Christi became on of the first cities to deploy a wireless broadband network. The first municipal application was for Automated Meter Reading (AMR) for water and gas meters; the City had sought to use AMR to save money and improve meter reading and billing accuracy. Today, 120,000 residential meters are read twice a day over the Tropos network. Since then, City leaders realized that they had a valuable asset in additional bandwidth that could be utilized by many city operations. By moving mobile city workers (police, building inspectors, code enforcement officers, fire inspectors, animal control officers and others) from a cellular network to Tropos, they have benefited from substantial cost savings plus much higher bandwidth enabling new applications such as Geographical Information systems (GIS), which performed too poorly to be of value over the cellular network. The City is also offering 25 free Wi-Fi hot zones around town as a way to provide an additional service for the community.