Even in the middle of a historic drought there isn’t much California’s cities can do to make sure people aren’t wasting water. Setting caps on use and big fines don’t mean much without the power to enforce the rules, and even Los Angeles only has six “water cops” to police 3.8 million people. Now new smart water meters could start busting the biggest offenders.
Wired reports Long Beach is one of the first municipalities to start using the smart meters and they’re already seeing a drop in usage. Unlike traditional meters which just gave the water department a total of how much you’ve used over a single billing period, the new meters track use in real time, loading data to the web every five minutes. So if someone’s going on a binge, like the McDonald’s that was fined for soaking the street with hours of sprinkler use, there’s evidence available to fine them immediately.
So far these are just pilot programs with tech companies like T2 taking on the burden of installing the equipment to convince cities to sign on, then storing the data in Microsoft’s Azure Cloud. Which, considering the trend of shaming celebs like Kim Kardashian for soaking up more than their share, will be just one more way to publicly disgrace moochers.