Deployments of metering units decreased in 1997, according to the January 1998 Trials & Installations Report released by the Automatic Meter Reading Association. The report details 211 project comprising more than 8.6 million units at 188 utilities.

Though the number of deployments reported in this edition dips by more than 2 million units compared with the 1997 report, many utilities have launched small-scale projects in 1997.

The 1998 report lists 110 new projects-52% of deployment activity-at 105 utilities in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and South Africa. Managers of these projects will oversee the deployment of nearly 1 million units: 983,233 units as part of permanent installations; 16,653 to test various AMR technologies and equipment.

Electric utilities report an unprecedented 137 projects at 132 utilities. Of these, 76 are new projects, 111 are installations of more than 2.3 million units and 26 are trials of 13,444 units.

However, only six electric-utility projects are installations of more than 100,000 units. Two use radio technology, two use mobile radio, one uses power-line communications and the largest is Duquesne Light Co.'s 600,000-unit deployment that uses mainly radio technology with telephone and other wireless links to specific sites.

Wireless Access to Data via Internet Four companies have joined forces to offer utilities a rugged, Windows 95-based wireless data communications and computing tool. RAM Mobile Data, Ericsson, Inc., GoAmerica Communications Corp. and Melard Technologies have developed Go.SCOUT, a tool that incorporates wireless intranet and Internet access.

Go.SCOUT, developed expressly for RAM's Mobitex wireless data service, can give utilities' field workers wireless access to their corporate intranet and the Internet in seconds.

The product is available for a 30-day trial. The trial includes a SCOUT All Terrain Subnotebook with a fully integrated Ericsson M2190 OEM wireless modem, GoAmerica's intranet/Internet access software and wireless data service from RAM Mobile Data.

Go.SCOUT for Mobitex allows utilities to extend their IT resources to their field workers and provide near real-time, wireless access to mission-critical data residing on corporate intranets and the Internet. It also supports dispatching software a utility may currently be using such as MDSI/Alliance and Utility Partners.

Smallworld Vaults into Web-based GIS Space Smallworldwide plc has launched SmallworldWeb, a Web-enabling technology designed to provide low-cost, simple-to-use access and interaction capability with a live geographic in-formation system (GIS) database via industry standard browsers.

High scalability is one of the biggest strengths of SmallworldWeb. The product has been engineered to handle a large number of users with good performance and reliable response. In addition, controls in Microsoft ActiveX enable user interaction and provide a way for GIS information to be used in conventional business formats such as PowerPoint presentations or Microsoft Word documents.

Brazilian Utility Signs Up Software COPEL (Companhia Paranaense de Energia), Brazil, has purchased a corporate site license for VISION* software from VISION* Solutions, a business unit of MCI Systemhouse. VISION* will be used as the platform for PiGEO, the utility's application for management of distribution network infrastructure.

Virginia Power Awards Contract Virginia Power awarded a US$18 million contract to Logica Energy & Utilities, a division of Logica, Inc. for an integrated work management/GIS system. As the system provider, Logica has brought together a team of industry vendors to provide Virginia Power with a new integrated geographic information/work management solution (IGWS). In addition, the development of this project calls for integration with the SAP suite of financial applications as Virginia Power makes a major commitment to become competition ready.

The IGWS will replace Virginia Power's existing work management system with Logica's proven WMIS software product, implement GIS, convert existing paper maps, provide a field solution, and interface with existing and merging supporting systems. Also included as part of this project is a full base map and facilities map data conversion for the entire Virginia Power operating area-30,000 sq miles and 2 million customers.

California Deregulation Keeps CellNet Busy With the opening of competition in California just around the corner, CellNet is busy providing services to several companies in preparation for the March 31 starting date.

CellNet is building a statewide wireless network to provide data communications services in California. Energy Pacific, a joint venture of Pacific Enterprises and Enova Corp., will be CellNet's first California network customer. The network, scheduled for completion in late 1998, will enable CellNet to provide its data communications services to virtually all of California's electricity consumers.

CellNet also has a contract with energy service provider (ESP) New West Energy to provide data communications services to New West Energy customers over the network. CellNet will provide these services to the majority of New West Energy's large commercial and industrial electricity customers. Depending on the terms of the agreement and the end customers' needs, the services may include the delivery of hourly electricity consumption data, demand and time-of-use data delivery, power outage detection, information and billing management, and meter installation, meter retrofit and meter setup services.

CellNet will also provide data communications services to the Montana Power Group, an ESP. Montana Power Group has been selected by the 1000-member California Manufacturers Association to assist its members with their energy decisions, as full customer choice comes to the California market in April.

A fourth ESP has also selected CellNet to provide data communications services. Electric Clearinghouse will use the network for its large commercial and industrial customers. Electric Clearinghouse is an NGC Corp. subsidiary.