Utility Photo Meter Reading and Billing
In Photo Based Reading & Spot Billing system, the meter reading is an on site input into the hand held Spot Bill Machine (SBM)/HHD like PDA, mobile phone etc. with portable printer, which in turn generates the bill. The present application has been developed to use any Android base mobile phone for the spot billing purpose. This mobile will have inbuilt billing application capable to process the consumer bills of all categories of consumers applying all business logics and tariff of the billing. The machine will be loaded with necessary data allotted at Photo Billing Server by connecting it to the Photo Billing Server prior to taking it to the field for billing. Alternatively, it will communicate with the server in real time and fetch necessary data for bill generation. The second approach has a greater dependence on the availability of mobile network, which is doubtful in rural remote areas; therefore the machine should have both the modes available for receiving bill data from server.
Simultaneously, the image of the meter is also taken by the meter reader with the help of an inbuilt camera or add-on camera. The image is transmitted to the photo billing server at data center. The software in the SBD (Small Business Device) shall automatically mark each image with account number, bill month etc. The reading parameters along with GPS co-ordinates and time are updated on the photo billing server in real time. Ideally, a person sitting at the sub division would be able to monitor the progress of the meter reader in real time and make a comparison of the readings recorded against the readings shown in the image.
The SBM/HHD software shall have feature of transmitting data/image from the machine to the server through inbuilt GPRS connection. However, in case network is not available, the data shall be stored temporarily in SBM/HHD and transmitted as soon as network is available or when device is connected to the sub-division computer. The SBD/HHD shall make repeated attempts to transmit the data to the spot billing server till the time an acknowledgement is received from the server.
In photo spot billing mode, the bill is generated on the spot on a 58MM wide pre printed paper (plain or thermal) in the SBM or through the portable printer attached with the HHD and shall be delivered to the consumer. The image of the meter taken by the reader is transmitted to the photo billing server at agency data center and shall be stored for further reference.
This approach will minimize the manual processing, replacing it with electronic data, imaging, workflow, and other web based tools to manage the rest of billing process. This also reduces the overall operational cost and manual errors involves in manual billing process. Its also helps in stopping any kind of manipulation in meter reading by verifying the meter reading entered manually and with the captured image