From SI Live:
Everyone in the neighborhood (in fact, the whole city) must be familiar with this letter. The NYC Department of Environmental Protection (aka the NYC Water Board on your checks) is touting an "upgrade" to the water meter system, with installation of "Automated Meter Reading (AMR) Devices". Its FREE, "there is no charge to you", the letter proclaims. Swarms of Constructamax trucks adorned with DEP decals are puttering around the neighborhood, with contractor drones ringing doorbells and performing frenzied "upgrades".
Now when a NY City agency that has RAISED my rates because I have conserved water and thereby assisted in their environmental protection mandate - offers me a FREE upgrade, I am naturally paranoid and more than a little curious. How many homeowners have actually checked on exactly WHAT this "free upgrade" being installed in their homes is? Does this letter have any information on this magical "automated" system? Absolutely none, and for good reason.
The DEP is installing radio transmitters at your homes. Without your express consent.
A visit to the DEP website turned this up:
"The Automated Meter Reading (AMR) system consists of small, low-power radio transmitters connected to individual water meters that send daily readings to a network of rooftop receivers throughout the city."
and that’s not all:
"The new AMR technology will be able to send accurate readings to a computerized billing system up to four times a day"
What possible legitimate reason could a water supplier (essentially, a utility company) have for constant monitoring of your home? I get a water bill every 3 months, that is four times a YEAR, not four times per DAY.
Your water bill is going to be routed through the emergency services channel that is capable of streaming video. Policemen, plumbers, who else is going to be on this party line?
"It is highly unlikely to interfere with the operation of any other electronic equipment."
Not impossible, but unlikely. Will grandma clutch her chest as her pacemaker goes berserk every time someone flushes the toilet? Unlikely, not impossible, but unlikely.
This is a colossal (and classic) waste of time and money. If the DEP has the money to throw away on these gizmos, not to mention what they must be paying Constructamax and the other contractor critters, REDUCE MY WATER BILL; don’t come up with creative ways to charge me more tomorrow! In this economy (or lack thereof), homeowners could use the break on their already absurdly high water (and sewer) bills.
And there is no mention anywhere about any legal requirements for installation of the high tech water surveillance system. Is there some local law that makes this "upgrade" mandatory? No one seems to know. Until then, I consider the law to be on my side as I eject Contructamax and other DEP contractors from my sovereign homestead, and continue to use my low-tech spinning dial water meter that clocks me for overpriced water and time-and-a-half sewage rates.