Suche Bilder Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive Mehr »
Anmelden
Nutzer von Screenreadern: Klicke auf diesen Link, um die Bedienungshilfen zu aktivieren. Dieser Modus bietet die gleichen Grundfunktionen, funktioniert aber besser mit deinem Reader.

Patentsuche

  1. Erweiterte Patentsuche
VeröffentlichungsnummerWO2004034069 A1
PublikationstypAnmeldung
AnmeldenummerPCT/IB2003/004448
Veröffentlichungsdatum22. Apr. 2004
Eingetragen9. Okt. 2003
Prioritätsdatum10. Okt. 2002
Auch veröffentlicht unterEP1552315A1
VeröffentlichungsnummerPCT/2003/4448, PCT/IB/2003/004448, PCT/IB/2003/04448, PCT/IB/3/004448, PCT/IB/3/04448, PCT/IB2003/004448, PCT/IB2003/04448, PCT/IB2003004448, PCT/IB200304448, PCT/IB3/004448, PCT/IB3/04448, PCT/IB3004448, PCT/IB304448, WO 2004/034069 A1, WO 2004034069 A1, WO 2004034069A1, WO-A1-2004034069, WO2004/034069A1, WO2004034069 A1, WO2004034069A1
ErfinderDonald Michael Taylor
AntragstellerActaris Measurement And Systems (Proprietary) Limited
Zitat exportierenBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
Externe Links:  Patentscope, Espacenet
System for the control of reticulated services
WO 2004034069 A1
Zusammenfassung
A system is provided for the supply of a reticulated service (2), typically electricity, but optionally gas or water, in which multiple consumer installations (3) are each connected by way of a point of delivery meter (1) (optionally associated with a prepayment controller (4)) to the reticulated service. The point of delivery meters each have a data retention unit (14) associated therewith that not only maintains consumption data corresponding to consumption passed through the point of delivery meter, but also data selected from one or more of applicable tariff; events such as replacement of point of delivery meter or replacement of prepayment controller; occasions of communication with the data retention unit; locator data in respect of premises, consumer installation, point of delivery meter, or separate prepayment controller; and real-time of events logged by the data retention unit. The data retention unit may also have a microprocessor function providing profiles as outputs. The system includes communications stations, typically mobile stations, that are capable of communicating by short-range communication means, typically wireless, with the data retention unit to extract data maintained therein.
Ansprüche  (OCR-Text kann Fehler enthalten)
CLAIMS:
1. A system for the supply of a reticulated service (2) or the like in which multiple consumer installations (3) are each connected by way of a point of delivery meter (1) (optionally associated with a prepayment controller (4)) to a reticulated service, wherein at least selected point of delivery meters each have a data retention unit (14) associated therewith wherein the data retention unit has memory means (18) adapted to maintain consumption data corresponding to consumption passed through the point of delivery meter optionally during one or more predetermined time periods, and wherein each of said data retention units is operatively associated with short-range communications means (8) for communicating said data to a communications station (13) positioned externally of premises in which such point of delivery meter is located, the system being characterized in that a data retention unit operatively also retains data associated with at least one item selected from the group consisting of i tariff information actively applicable to the point of delivery meter and any associated prepayment controller, such tariff information optionally being one of a plurality applicable according to real-time; ii real-time as to events logged by the data retention unit; iii information as to a succession of inspections performed by the communications station being logged onto the data retention unit; iv information as to the succession of different point of delivery meters or, as may be appropriate, different separate prepayment controllers that have been associated with a particular data retention unit; v a profile of consumption over a predetermined number of previous metered periods; vi a profile, optionally of a statistical nature, of the connection and disconnection of a series of point of delivery meters and, as may be appropriate, any separate prepayment controllers, with a particular data retention unit; vii locator data in respect of at least one of the premises; consumer installation; point of delivery meter; as may be appropriate, separate prepayment controller or data retention unit; and, viii functionality providing direct bi-directional communication between a point of delivery meter or, as may be appropriate, a prepayment controller, and an external communications station.
2. A system as claimed in claim 1 in which the point of delivery meter has associated therewith a prepayment controller (4).
3. A system as claimed in either one of claims 1 or 2 in which the memory means operatively retains data corresponding to at least either or both of an identifier or locator data in respect of any one or more of said point of delivery meters, prepayment controllers and consumer installations or premises.
4. A system as claimed in claim 3 in which the locator data is either in the form of a conventional physical address or in the form of coordinates of the global positioning system (GPS) or other equivalent system.
5. A system as claimed in any one of the preceding claims in which each data retention unit is assigned to a particular premises or consumer installation for a lifetime generally exceeding that of the installation of any particular point of
/ delivery meter or prepayment controller.
6. A system as claimed in any one of the preceding claims in which each data retention unit has associated therewith a data retention unit identifier that is operatively maintained in said memory means.
7. A system as claimed in any one of the preceding claims in which the data retention unit operatively records events associated with interruptions of supply and variations outside of predetermined limits of the supply network of the reticulated services.
8. A system as claimed in any one of the preceding claims in which the data retention unit has a clock embodied therein in which case consumption data is recorded on a fixed periodic basis.
9. A system as claimed in claim 8 in the which for the consumption data is recorded on an update basis in which case the consumption data is maintained for the immediately preceding predetermined number of time periods.
10. A system as claimed in any one of the preceding claims in which the data retention unit embodies a microprocessor that itself is programmed to analyze the consumption according to particular criteria.
11. A system as claimed in any one of the preceding claims in which the external communications station is adapted to communicate selectively with a plurality of data retention units within a predetermined communications range
12. A system as claimed in any one of the preceding claims in which the communications station is adapted to communicate either in real-time with a remote central processing station (12), or from time to time, to download accumulated data or to cooperate in real-time to enable it to update or install data in the data retention unit, in the point of delivery meter, or any associated prepayment controller, in the communications station itself, or to extract data from any one or more of these.
13. A system as claimed in any one of the preceding claims in which the data retention unit is a physically separate unit insofar as it can be associated substantially permanently with a particular consumer installation or premises in spite of the fact that the associated point of delivery meter or prepayment controller may be changed.
14. A system as claimed in claim 13 in which the data retention unit is in the form of a plug-in unit plugged into a point of delivery meter or prepayment controller.
15. A system as claimed in any one of the preceding claims in which the communications station can selectively communicate directly with data maintained in the point of delivery meter or prepayment controller by way of the data retention unit that serves, in this case, as a communications link.
16. A system as claimed in any one of the preceding claims in which the short- range communications means between the data retention unit and a communications station is a short-range wireless communication.
17. A system as claimed in any one of the preceding claims in which the external communications station is a mobile external communications station and embodies a GPS detector (29) for identifying the physical location of premises and consumer installations.
18. A system as claimed in any one of the preceding claims in which the communications station has a display that can be employed to display a list of identifiers from a plurality of data retention units that are within range at any one time and from which list a required data retention unit is selectable manually or automatically in a predetermined sequence.
19. A data retention unit adapted for cooperation with a point of delivery meter or prepayment controller, or both, so as to operate in a system as claimed in any one of the preceding claims.
20. A communications station adapted for cooperation with data retention units of a system as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 18.
Beschreibung  (OCR-Text kann Fehler enthalten)

SYSTEM FOR THE CONTROL OF RETICULATED SERVICES

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to a system and data retention unit for the control of reticulated services or the like and, more particularly, the control of a reticulated service of a general nature that renders it capable of being metered at a point of delivery to a consumer or recipient of the services. The services of particular interest, whilst not limiting the scope of application of the invention, are those of which the consumer or recipient has the ability to draw off variable quantities, on demand. Typical of such services are the supply of electricity, water, and gas.

Whilst the following description of the invention will be particularly aimed at the control of the supply of electricity, this is because that application is of particular and immediate concern. However, it will be perfectly apparent to those skilled in the art that control of other services that are capable of being metered or otherwise measured automatically, could be similarly exercised.

BACKGROUND TO THE INVENTION

It is generally accepted that a consumer of a reticulated service, such as electricity, pay for that service according to some formula or tariff as dictated by the extent of the consumer's usage of the service, that is, apart from any free allocation of the service in respect of predetermined time periods, typically one month time periods.

In order to exercise control over each consumer's usage, a meter is installed at the point of delivery, in the case of electricity, at the point where the consumer's electrical installation draws power from the mains electrical supply grid. Such meters have long being a target for tampering in order to cause the meter to record consumption in a lesser amount of the service than has actually been utilized by the consumer. Typical of such tampering are bridges or bypasses that have, in particular, been applied to electrical supply meters so that only a part of the electricity actually consumed is recorded by the meter. Service or installation technicians may even be bribed to install such a bridge or bypass. There are numerous other tampering techniques that have been used in an effort to cause a meter to record less of the reticulated service than has actually been supplied. In addition, meters may also become defective and reflect an incorrect consumption This could be either to the detriment or advantage of the consumer.

The problem becomes particularly acute in the case of reticulated services, in particular electricity, supplied on a prepaid basis in which a prepayment controller is associated with the point of delivery meter such the service is available to a particular consumer only whilst a credit is available in the prepayment controller. In the absence of a credit the point of delivery meter is activated by the prepayment controller to terminate the supply of the relevant service, typically by opening an electrical switch in the case of electricity or the closing of a supply valve in the case of water or gas.

Present practical installations of which applicant is aware often do not have any effective means of, in the first place, of detecting any change in consumption pattern that may be occasioned by tampering with a point of delivery meter or even a prepayment controller. Also, existing control systems do not enable regular reading of the point of delivery and prepayment meters to be made.

The only control that is presently exercised by at least some suppliers of particular services, typically municipalities or other local authorities, is that of analyzing payments made by a consumer in an attempt to detect any deviations from an historic pattern or typical consumption profile having regard to the demographic circumstances of a particular consumer. This is done in the absence of regular readings of the point of delivery meter.

Once a deviation in payment profile has been detected, an inspector may be sent to the relevant consumer's point of delivery meter in order to inspect the same and determine whether or not there are any irregularities in the supply installation. The problem with this method of control is that such inspection generally has to be carried out during normal working hours and there is very often not anyone at the relevant premises to allow access to the prepayment controller and, more particularly, the point of delivery meter. Dishonest consumers may "ensure" that no one is available to provide the access required by an inspector.

These problems become still more acute in the case of high-density living areas and even more difficult in the case of informal type dwellings when even the address of the relevant premises may not be immediately apparent or, there may indeed be no official address at all. In the latter case the only form of identity of a particular consumer installation is a number carried by the point of delivery meter itself which is inaccessible to an inspector in the absence of anyone to provide access.

One attempt that has been made to alleviate the difficulties indicated above may be termed automatic meter reading. In such a system every point of delivery meter communicates readings back to a central station my means of a powerline carrier modem, radio modem, or telephone network modem. This solution is extremely costly to implement; results in a substantial amount of data being communicated to the central station whereof a large proportion is not useful; and is also limited as to the nature of the data that is communicated to the central station.

Another possibility is that of installing split meters whereof the point of delivery meter itself is located in a locked housing outside of the premises and is connected by hardwiring or even powerline carrier modems or the like to a prepayment interface unit located inside the premises. An inspector would have access to the point of delivery meter for inspection purposes but any tampering cannot simply be attributed to the consumer because the point of delivery meter could be open to tampering by third parties. This solution is also costly in that it involves considerable installation costs in addition to the cost of having two separate units. It also does not provide security against vandalism in respect of the point of delivery meter.

Finally, applicant is aware of a rather rudimentary system that has apparently been applied in the case of water meters in which a separate unit is associated with a water meter so as to record the revolutions of a component thereof and to transmit information as to the "meter reading" and the meter identity by short-range wireless communication to a mobile meter reading function. This system does not overcome the difficulties outlined above other than the ability to read a meter remotely without any presence being required of the inhabitants of relevant premises.

OBJECT OF THE INVENTION

It is, accordingly, an object of this invention to provide a control system and data retention unit for the control of reticulated services and the like that overcomes, at least to some extent, one or more of the difficulties outlined above.

DEFINITIONS

In order to facilitate understanding of the invention, and in the circumstances that a wide variety of different terms are used in the industry to mean particular items, the following terms will be used herein to have the meanings stated below: -

"consumer installation" is intended to mean any installation at premises of a consumer that utilizes or consumes a reticulated service and that is generally connected to the reticulated service through a point of delivery meter intended to measure the extent of use of the reticulated service by the consumer;

"premises" is intended to mean any building, enclosure or structure in which a point of delivery meter is installed;

"point of delivery meter" is intended to mean any measuring device adapted to measure the extent of utilization of a reticulated service in a consumer installation;

"prepayment controller" is intended to mean any device that is adapted to receive and decrement credit to be applied to a particular point of delivery meter in order to cause termination of the supply of a reticulated service under conditions in which inadequate credit remains in the prepayment controller. The prepayment controller may or may not be embodied in a point of delivery meter, or may optionally be housed in the same physical unit as a point of delivery meter; "identifier" is intended to mean any unique code that generally assumes the form of a numeric or alphanumeric string of digits but may assume any other form, such as, unique electronic data whereby any particular item in relation to which it is used can be uniquely identified with respect to other similar items; and,

"locator data" is intended to mean data such as a meaningful physical address; global positioning system coordinates (GPS coordinates); or other information or data whereby an item or premises can be physically located on the earth's surface.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with one aspect of this invention there is provided a system for the supply of a reticulated service or the like in which multiple consumer installations are each connected by way of a point of delivery meter (optionally associated with a prepayment controller) to a reticulated service, wherein at least selected point of delivery meters each have a data retention unit associated therewith wherein the data retention unit has memory means adapted to maintain consumption data corresponding to consumption passed through the point of delivery meter optionally during one or more predetermined time periods, and wherein each of said data retention units is operatively associated with short-range communications means for communicating said data to a communications station positioned externally of premises in which such point of delivery meter is located, the system being characterized in that a data retention unit operatively also retains data associated with at least one item selected from the group consisting of i tariff information actively applicable to the point of delivery meter and any associated prepayment controller, such tariff information optionally being one of a plurality thereof that are selectively applicable according to real-time; ii real-time as to events logged by the data retention unit; iii information as to a succession of inspections performed by a communications station being logged onto the data retention unit; iv information as to the succession of different point of delivery meters or, as may be appropriate, different separate prepayment controllers that have been associated with a particular data retention unit; v a profile of consumption over a predetermined number of previous metered periods; vi a profile, optionally of a statistical nature, of the connection and disconnection of a series of point of delivery meters and, as may be appropriate, any separate prepayment controllers, with a particular data retention unit; vii locator data in respect of at least one of the premises; consumer installation; point of delivery meter; as may be appropriate, separate prepayment controller and data retention unit; and, viii functionality providing direct bi-directional communication between a point of delivery meter or, as may be appropriate, a prepayment controller, and an external communications station.

Further features of this aspect of the invention provide for the point of delivery meter to have associated therewith a prepayment controller; for the memory means to operatively retain data corresponding to at least either an identifier or locator data in respect of each of said point of delivery meters, prepayment controllers and consumer installations or premises; for locator data to be either in the form of a conventional physical address or in the form of coordinates of the global positioning system (GPS) or other equivalent system; for each data retention unit to be assigned to a particular premises or consumer installation for a lifetime generally exceeding that of the installation of any particular point of delivery meter or prepayment controller; for each data retention unit to have associated therewith a data retention unit identifier that is operatively maintained in said memory means; for the data retention unit to operatively record information as to identifiers and occasions of replacement of point of delivery meters and prepayment controllers installed from time to time in association with a particular data retention unit; for the data retention unit to operatively record data constituting a record of occasions on which inspectors or the like have logged on to a particular data retention unit; and for the data retention unit to further operatively record events associated with the supply network of the reticulated services such as, for example, in the case of an electrical supply, interruptions of supply and variations of voltage outside of predetermined limits. Still further features of the invention provide for the data retention unit to have a clock embodied therein in which case consumption data may be recorded on a fixed periodic basis, typically daily, or alternatively, in cases that the point of delivery meter has its own clock, for the data retention unit to record consumption data according to such clock on said periodic basis; for the consumption data to be recorded on an update basis in which case the consumption data is maintained for the immediately preceding predetermined number of time periods, for example the previous 28 or 30 days; for the data retention unit to embody a microprocessor that itself is programmed to analyze the consumption according to particular criteria, such as consumption history or demographic profile, or both; and for the data retention unit to operatively retain data as to more than one tariff to be selectively applied by cooperation with an associated prepayment controller, with a selection between tariffs being based on time of day when the consumption takes place.

Yet further features of the invention provide for the external communications station to be either a mobile communications station or a fixed communications station adapted to communicate with a plurality of data retention units within a predetermined communications range; for the communications station to be adapted to communicate either in real-time with a remote central processing station, or from time to time to download accumulated data; and for the data retention unit and communications station to be adapted to cooperate in real-time with the central processing station to enable it to update or install data in the data retention unit, in the point of delivery meter, or any associated prepayment controller, in the communications station itself, or to extract data from any one or more of these.

Still further, the data retention unit may operatively retain numerous other forms of data that may be selected from payment history, in particular the identification codes of prepayment tokens or their equivalent that have been employed in relation to a particular prepayment controller or point of delivery meter; data pertaining to tampering that may have been detected by security features associated with a point of delivery meter or a prepayment controller, or both; and various other items of data that may be of statistical interest both as regards the profile of the consumer and the history of the consumer installation at least insofar as the point of delivery meter, the identity of the consumer, the ownership of the premises and other items of information may be concerned.

It should be noted in particular that, whiist a data retention unit might physically operate in close association with a point of delivery meter and any associated prepayment controller, in at least the preferred implementation of the invention the data retention unit is a physically separate unit insofar as it can be associated substantially permanently with a particular consumer installation or premises in spite of the fact that the associated point of delivery meter or prepayment controller may be changed. The data retention unit is therefore preferably in the form of a plug-in unit from which they point of delivery meter can be removed when it is changed and plugged into a replacement point of delivery meter associated with the same consumer installation. A data retention unit may therefore have the purpose of accumulating data over a period of time that exceeds the lifetime of the association of any particular point of delivery meter or prepayment controller and thereby enable a substantial and optionally statistical profile to be developed both as regards the particular consumer installation or premises and as regards a particular demographic sector.

The data retention unit, in the form of such a physically separate unit, also provides advantages in that the point of delivery meter and prepayment controller can be made in a rather basic form without a real-time clock and can employ a real-time clock forming part of the data retention unit for all purposes to be fulfilled by these components. Also, a prepayment controller need not have any built in tariff facility since tariff based control can be exercised by the data retention unit.

It should also be noted that the communications station cannot only interrogate the data retention unit itself but, preferably, can also communicate directly with data maintained in the point of delivery meter or prepayment controller by way of the data retention unit that serves, in this case, simply as a communications link. In this way data retained in the data retention unit can be compared with that maintained in the point of delivery meter or prepayment controller itself, as may be required. The exact data retrieved from the data retention unit memory means and the point of delivery meter or prepayment controller will depend, to a large extent, on requirements and the capabilities of the point of delivery meter or prepayment controller itself.

As regards the nature of the short-range communications means between the data retention unit and a communications station, this may be by way of short-range wireless communication of a type that does not require regulatory approval and that is often termed a non-specific short-range device. However, numerous other forms of communications means can be employed including modems for superimposing signals on supply powerlines and dedicated hardwired terminals external of the premises that are accessible to an inspector whilst the point of delivery meter is located inside the premises. In the latter instance the external terminal could be of a plug-in type or could be of a proximity type that uses electromagnetic coupling to transfer data from the external terminal to a cooperating terminal on the communications station.

In the case of a mobile external communications station it will also preferably embody a GPS detector so that the physical location of premises and consumer installations can be compared with that communicated from the data retention unit and the communications station also has the ability to communicate selectively with any one of a series of data retention units that are within range at any one time. Preferably the communications station has a display that can be employed to display a list of identification data from a plurality of data retention units that are within range at any one time and from which list a required data retention unit can be selected manually or automatically in a predetermined sequence. Of course, such a display could be employed to display any other data or information that may be required, in particular, any other data retained by the data retention unit.

In accordance with a second aspect of the invention there is provided a data retention unit adapted for cooperation with a point of delivery meter or prepayment controller, or both, so as to operatively extract at least consumption data from the meter and record same for use in a system as defined above. The data retention unit may have any or all optional features and functions identified above. The invention still further provides a communications station, typically a mobile communications station, adapted for use in a system as defined above. The communications station may also have any or all optional features and functions identified above.

In order that the above and other features of the invention may be more fully understood an expanded description of one implementation of the invention in an electricity supply system including prepayment meters follows with reference to the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the drawings:-

Figure 1 is a flow diagram illustrating the operation of one form of system according to this invention;

Figure 2 is a schematic illustration of the various components of a particular embodiment of system according to the invention;

Figure 3 is a front view of a point of delivery meter of the general type employed in the system illustrated in Figure 2;

Figure 4 is a block diagram of the circuit of one embodiment of data retention unit according to the invention; and,

Figure 5 is a hypothetical graph illustrating the manner in which the particular data retention unit of this embodiment of the invention can detect a tamper condition of a consumer installation.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION WITH REFERENCE TO THE DRAWINGS

Referring firstly to Figures 1 and 2 of the drawings, there is depicted a typical electrical power supply system in which a point of delivery meter (1) is interposed between an electrical power supply grid (2) and a consumer electrical installation (3). In this particular application of the invention the point of delivery meter has a prepayment controller (4) associated with it such that electrical power is connected to the consumer's electrical installation only whilst a credit value is present in the prepayment controller. It will be quite clear that, in other applications of the invention in which prepayment controllers are not employed, almost all of the features of the application described below will apply other than those that involve the prepayment controller.

As indicated in Figure 2, the point of delivery meter (1) together with its associated prepayment controller, is carried by the front part (5) of a meter housing (6) with the associated isolation switches (7) for controlling the electrical power supply fixed to the base (8) of the housing. With this arrangement it is an easy matter to replace the point of delivery meter or prepayment controller, or both, as and when necessary.

As is well-known to those skilled in the art, the prepayment controller may be provided with credit in any suitable manner such as by way of tokens (9) (typically in the form of a numeric or alphanumeric code that is to be inputted into the prepayment controller by way of a keypad (10) or other suitable interface) issued by or on behalf of a central management system (11). Such tokens generally sold by way of various vendors located at suitable geographic locations that are convenient to consumers for the purpose of purchasing prepaid electricity. The central management system embodies a central processing station (12) that operatively communicates with a mobile communications station (13) described below.

As provided by this invention a data retention unit (14) is associated with the point of delivery meter (1) and prepayment controller (4) so as to retain data selected according to circumstances; the degree of sophistication required of the system itself; and the viable cost of the data retention unit and associated equipment. In an initial implementation of the invention the data retention unit is configured to be enclosed in the housing (6) of the existing point of delivery meter as illustrated in Figure 2, conveniently by attaching it to the inside of the rear wall of the base (8) of the housing that is permanently fixed, typically to a wall. The data retention unit has a single communications cable (15) and associated plug (16) that is configured to plug, optionally by way of a suitable adapter, directly into a communications port of the prepayment controller or point of delivery meter. The housing is sealed in such a way that the data retention unit is accessible only to authorized personnel.

In one form of data retention unit shown in Figure 4, the unit comprises a programmable single chip 8-bit microprocessor (17) with integrated flash RAM (18); an integrated real-time clock (19); and programmable input/output ports (20). A low frequency crystal (21) is chosen in order that the microprocessor runs at a low speed, thus conserving battery power.

Application control program code is loaded into the flash RAM by means of an external bi-directional programming port (22). Should the battery (23) run out of power, then the microprocessor shuts down and the program code is retained in the flash RAM indefinitely until the battery power is restored. The program code provides for realizing the various functions described below. The flash RAM also provides the memory means identified above.

The integrated real-time clock is programmable by the microprocessor and is initialized to the correct date and time settings via the external programming port or, alternatively, via the mobile communications station described below. After loss of power the date and time settings have to be initialized again. The battery is charged via a charging regulator circuit (24), that receives power from a prepayment meter or point of delivery meter to which it is connected via a prepayment meter port (25).

The data retention unit is adapted to utilize short range wireless communication and, to this end, embodies a standard radio transmitter / receiver I C (26). The transmitter is a non-specific short range device having a range of about 100m and whereof the operation does not require regulatory authorization.

The data retention unit application software may provide for any required selection from the following functions:

1. Maintain a log, typically a daily log, of consumption to provide a profile history for say the previous 30 days with those readings older than 30 days being discarded, but preferably statistically processed into a formula to yield measures of mean values and variance from standard deviation. Simply by way of example a hypothetical graphical output that shows a tamper condition as a result of a decrease in regular peak loads and that may be shown on the display of the computer of the mobile communications station is shown in Figure 5.

2. Maintain an accumulated total of consumption delivered to the consumer irrespective of replacements of prepayment controllers and point of delivery meters.

3. Maintain a log of meter installation and removal events that records an entry each time that a meter is connected to or disconnected from the data retention unit. It may record data like date and time; meter serial number; and may calculate statistical measures like frequency of meter changes, mean values and variance from standard deviation.

4. Maintain a log of inspector identifiers and inspection dates during inspection visits (occasions on which an external communications station has logged onto the data retention unit) and may calculate statistical measures like frequency of inspections, mean values and variance from standard deviation.

5. Maintain a log of tamper events and may calculate statistical measures such as frequency of events, mean values and variance from standard deviation. 6. Maintain a log of network events such as number of voltage excursions outside of limits, value of excursions, number of supply interruptions and duration. It may calculate statistical measures such as frequency of events, mean values and variance from standard deviation.

7. Maintain a record of tariff parameters such as price and time schedules, taxes and auxiliary charges. It may also calculate consumption related charges according to the tariff by processing metered consumption readings from the meter and passing these back to the prepayment controller for deduction from available credit.

8. Maintain a record of consumer reference parameters such as network installation identifier code, utility company identifier code, installation date, etc

9. Maintain a record of location parameters such as GPS coordinates, installation address, GIS reference, etc

10. Maintain a record of parameters relating to the benchmarks used for statistical analysis and detection of deviations from normal patterns. 11. Maintain a record of the technical working status of the Data Retention Unit.

12. Monitor the working condition of the battery

13. Maintain date and time information by means of the real-time clock function.

14. Maintain a record of parameters relating to the configuration and control of the radio transmitter/receiver integrated circuit and the RF communications protocol.

15. Act as a communications link between a mobile unit and the prepayment meter without intervening in the process.

As a minimum, the data retention unit has a memory that is capable of maintaining at least data identifying the particular point of delivery meter and consumer installation or premises identifier and data as to the total consumption reflected on the point of delivery meter. In addition to this any selection of the items referred to above can be implemented.

The external communications station (13) that in this application is a mobile station, comprises a combination of a hand-held computer (27); a communicator unit (28) for communicating with the data retention units of the type described above; a GPS locator unit (29), and a GSM modem (30) for enabling communications with the central processing station to take place via the local GSM network. The hand-held computer has a key-board, display and application software to perform the functions described herein. These components may be separate modules that are externally connected together and housed in a convenient enclosure, or they may be electronically integrated into one circuit and packaged in a single housing.

The circuit of the communicator unit is substantially identical to that of the data retention unit apart from the fact that the battery is configured to enable the mobile unit to operate for several days without having to receive a recharge, and to be recharged by means of a suitable mains powered charger circuit.

Finally, the central processing station comprises a substantially conventional computer that is provided with a GSM modem (31) to enable it to communicate with a plurality of external communications stations (13) from time to time. In use, the data retention unit is normally in a sleep mode in order to conserve battery power but is adapted to become active immediately it detects a wireless signal from a mobile communications station or any other activity that is to be logged. When it detects a signal from a mobile communications station it firstly checks if the message is intended for itself by comparing the identifier codes embodied in the received message to its own identifier code. It will, of course, generally be one of many within the range of the communications station. If the message is not meant for itself, it returns to sleep mode. If it is intended for that data retention unit is it will process the message; interact with mobile communications station; and then return to sleep mode at the end of the communications session. The real-time clock continues to operate during the periods that the data retention unit is in sleep mode and will periodically activate it when it is time to update its time and date information and to perform certain programmed tasks according to the relevant programmed schedule.

The data retention unit may also perform other house keeping tasks such as adjusting the RF transmission signal levels and receiver sensitivity levels during a communications session with a mobile communications station as will be known to those skilled in the art.

The basic requirement of the communication between the data retention unit and external communications station is that at least selected data retained in the memory of the data retention unit can be accessed remotely by the mobile communications station without having to gain access to the premises in which the point of delivery meter, prepayment controller and associated data retention unit are physically located. Not only that, but the external communications station also has the ability to access data retained in the meter itself by way of the data retention unit.

It will be understood that the data retention unit, being a separate unit from the point of delivery meter in the preferable situation, may accumulate data from successive point of delivery meters or prepayment controllers that may be associated with it over a period of time as the data retention unit is intended to remain associated with a particular consumer installation or premises irrespective of a change in the point of delivery meter or prepayment controller. From the point of view of the communications station, it will be able to communicate with a reasonably large number of data retention units within range and, generally, a list of data retention units can be called up and displayed on the display of the handheld computer to enable a selection to be made in the event that a particular data retention unit was not specifically requested.

As indicated above the communications station has wireless communication means (in this case via the GSM network) for communicating with the central processing station forming part of the central management system so that communication between the mobile communications station and the central processing station can be conducted in real-time for the purpose of exchanging data concerning a particular point of delivery meter and/or prepayment controller that is under examination by an inspector operating the mobile communications station. Also, such communication can be employed to enable the central processing station to communicate with the data retention unit; the meter itself, and/or prepayment controller, or all of these and to thereby exchange data, and in particular to update or install new data, even program material, in any of the external communications station, data retention unit; point of delivery meter itself, and/or prepayment controller.

The data retention unit is more preferably programmed also to retain data as to the history of tokens utilized in the prepayment controller for acquiring credit so that the payment history can be correlated, optionally in real-time, by way of the communications station, with a record that is maintained at the central processing station. This data is also accessible to the communications station by way of the communications means. This facility thus also enables the credit tokens purchased and recorded in the central processing station to be reconciled with actual consumption as recorded in the data retention unit. This data will be more comprehensive and cover a more extended historic period than the data available from the meter or prepayment controller itself in instances in which the meter or prepayment controller has been replaced.

The identification of premises, and this is particularly helpful in the case of informal settlements, is facilitated utilizing locator data as to the physical location of the relevant premises or consumer installation in which a point of delivery meter is located as well as the physical location of the point of delivery meter or prepayment controller itself and the data retention unit itself. Conveniently this locator data assumes the form of GPS coordinates, typically of the location of, for example, the front door or other accessway of the premises insofar as the premises are concerned.

The GPS coordinates, in such a case, are inputted into the data retention unit at the time of installation by an installation technician utilizing a suitable GPS device for determining the relevant coordinates. The presence of the GPS unit in the mobile communications station is of course essential to make use of this data.

The microprocessor may also apply security, typically in the form of encryption, to the data stored within the data retention unit or to data communicated to the mobile communications unit, or both in substantially conventional manner.

Of course, the program material for operating the microprocessor that is stored together with the other data in a suitable electronic memory (18) can be updated, supplemented or removed by the central processing station by way of a mobile communications station.

It will be understood that numerous variations may be made to the system outlined above without departing from the scope hereof. In particular, as an alternative to a mobile communications station, an external communications station may be fixed and adapted to communicate with a predetermined number of data retention units that are within its range or field of operation. Also, many communication means other than short-range wireless communication may be used for communicating with the data retention unit such as those of that employ a modem superimposing signals on the electrical supply conductors themselves as well as other hardwired systems including a telephone wire or even a secure external communications socket, port or electromagnetic coupling device positioned remotely from the data retention unit.

Still further, the selection of actual items of information to be recorded in the data retention unit is immaterial to the scope of this invention and may well vary according to requirements in each situation.

Patentzitate
Zitiertes PatentEingetragen Veröffentlichungsdatum Antragsteller Titel
EP0742442A2 *22. Apr. 199613. Nov. 1996Siemens Measurements LimitedImprovements in or relating to modulised utility meters
EP0980002A1 *13. Juli 199916. Febr. 2000Powercom Control Systems Ltd.A device for detecting and reporting theft of electric power
GB2295682A * Titel nicht verfügbar
GB2347225A * Titel nicht verfügbar
US4523460 *6. Dez. 198318. Juni 1985Montech Systems IncorporatedFluid measuring, testing and accounting system
US4654662 *23. Juli 198431. März 1987James Van OrsdelApparatus for telemetry apparatus for reading utility meters
US5086292 *31. Okt. 19894. Febr. 1992Iris Systems Inc.Tamper detection device for utility meter
US5473322 *24. Juli 19925. Dez. 1995Schlumberger Industries, Inc.Apparatus and method for sensing tampering with a utility meter
US6115676 *9. Apr. 19965. Sept. 2000General Electric CompanyMethods and apparatus for performing load profile and load control
US6232886 *23. Dez. 199815. Mai 2001Schlumberger Resource Management Services, Inc.Method and apparatus for indicating meter tampering
US6429785 *8. Jan. 19996. Aug. 2002Siemens Power Transmission & Distribution Inc.Revenue meter having precision time clock
US20020143693 *1. Nov. 20013. Okt. 2002Soestbergen Mark VanMethod and system for banking and exchanging emission reduction credits
Referenziert von
Zitiert von PatentEingetragen Veröffentlichungsdatum Antragsteller Titel
WO2006024854A2 *1. Sept. 20059. März 2006Iskraemeco Ecl LimitedAutomated meter reader
WO2006024854A3 *1. Sept. 200520. Apr. 2006Iskraemeco Ecl LtdAutomated meter reader
WO2012084523A27. Dez. 201128. Juni 2012Nagravision S.A.System and method to enforce utility meter security
WO2012084523A3 *7. Dez. 201123. Aug. 2012Nagravision S.A.System and method to enforce utility meter security
WO2013030250A1 *30. Aug. 20127. März 2013Nagravision S.A.Pricing system and method for utility consumptions within a smart grid
WO2015073495A1 *12. Nov. 201421. Mai 2015Microchip Technology IncorporatedIntegrated circuit device with tamper dtection input and having real time clock and calendar logging thereof
EP2515082A1 *18. Apr. 201124. Okt. 2012Nagravision S.A.System and method to enforce utility meter security
EP2565586A1 *30. Aug. 20116. März 2013Nagravision S.A.Pricing system and method for utility consumptions within a smart grid
US93846587. Dez. 20115. Juli 2016Nagravision S.A.System and method to enforce utility meter security
US960289511. Nov. 201421. März 2017Microchip Technology IncorporatedIntegrated circuit device with tamper detection input and having real time clock calendar logging thereof
Klassifizierungen
Internationale KlassifikationG01D4/00, G01R22/00, G01F15/075, G01F15/06
UnternehmensklassifikationG01R22/00, G01F15/063, Y04S20/327, Y02B90/244, Y04S20/322, Y02B90/242, G01D4/004, G01F15/0755
Europäische KlassifikationG01F15/06B2, G01D4/00R1, G01F15/075B
Juristische Ereignisse
DatumCodeEreignisBeschreibung
22. Apr. 2004AKDesignated states
Kind code of ref document: A1
Designated state(s): AE AG AL AM AT AU AZ BA BB BG BR BY BZ CA CH CN CO CR CU CZ DE DK DM DZ EC EE ES FI GB GD GE GH GM HR HU ID IL IN IS JP KE KG KP KR KZ LC LK LR LS LT LU LV MA MD MG MK MN MW MX MZ NI NO NZ OM PG PH PL PT RO RU SC SD SE SG SK SL SY TJ TM TN TR TT TZ UA UG US UZ VC VN YU ZA ZM ZW
22. Apr. 2004ALDesignated countries for regional patents
Kind code of ref document: A1
Designated state(s): GH GM KE LS MW MZ SD SL SZ TZ UG ZM ZW AM AZ BY KG KZ MD RU TJ TM AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HU IE IT LU MC NL PT RO SE SI SK TR BF BJ CF CG CI CM GA GN GQ GW ML MR NE SN TD TG
16. Juni 2004121Ep: the epo has been informed by wipo that ep was designated in this application
5. Mai 2005WWEWipo information: entry into national phase
Ref document number: 2003269318
Country of ref document: AU
6. Mai 2005WWEWipo information: entry into national phase
Ref document number: 2003751097
Country of ref document: EP
Ref document number: 539879
Country of ref document: NZ
10. Mai 2005WWEWipo information: entry into national phase
Ref document number: 200503729
Country of ref document: ZA
13. Juli 2005WWPWipo information: published in national office
Ref document number: 2003751097
Country of ref document: EP
8. Sept. 2006NENPNon-entry into the national phase in:
Ref country code: JP
8. Sept. 2006WWWWipo information: withdrawn in national office
Country of ref document: JP