Health & Wellness Created

#264 Using Tech to Prevent Erroneous Water Bill Debt

The Department of Public Works (DPW) BaltiMeter Billing program has erroneously charged Baltimoreans amounts as high as $81,000 for their water bills, when they really only owed several hundred dollars. This is often the result of a public water main breaking or leaking and a homeowner being charged for this problem. Sources: https://www.baltimoresun.com/opinion/op-ed/bs-ed-op-1026-water-bill-issues-20171024-story.html

Location

Across Baltimore City

Timeline

Oct 20, 2020

Today

Sep 26, 2019

Created

Why it matters

City software system errors such as these have the potential to devastate Baltimoreans, who have an average annual per capita income of just $28,488. Sources: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/baltimorecitymarylandcounty/INC910217#INC910217

What does "good" look like?

Baltimore residents' water consumption is accurately measured, system errors are prevented (or, in the worst case scenario, caught before the bill is sent), and Baltimore residents who still owe money to the city for erroneous water bills have their debt forgive, are compensated for their time, and reimbursed for any legal expenses they may have incurred fighting this injustice.

How could technology solve this?

Clearly, there is an issue with the way that the Balti Meter program measures and calculates residents' bills. To solve this problem, we should do a thorough assessment of the software that powers the Balti Meter program and add sensors (like the one's being tested in Syracuse, NY: https://www.govtech.com/data/Syracuse-Tests-Technology-that-Predicts-Water-Main-Breaks.html) that can detect when a leak might happen and how severe it will be.