The digitalisation of water management in the city of Gandía (Valencia, Spain) is a ground-breaking project using the latest remote reading, NB-IoT and big data technologies applied to the industry.
This plan is the result of a joint effort between GoAigua, Vodafone and the City Council, in order to enhance water resources performance, optimise resources and offer an excellent service to citizens.
To do that, it contemplates the deployment of 40,000 smart meters that transmit information on hourly consumption. The data are received by Vodafone's NB-IoT network, to later be integrated into the IoT and big data platform of GoAigua to create innovative services.
GoAigua is a company that pioneers the technological transformation of the water industry, born as a result of the Global Omnium's digitalisation success. It is an international leader in remote reading, managing more than 700,000 smart meters, and has become consolidated as a global technology partner that offers innovative solutions for integrated water cycle management.
Gandía wants to drive water resources performance by enhancing the efficiency of the distribution network, optimising resources and offering an excellent water service to citizens. The project focused on reducing both water and energy consumption, to achieve advanced integrated water cycle management.
The solution entailed the implementation of GoAigua's technology solutions, together with Vodafone's NB-IoT developments. In addition, new advances in relation to meter reading would be implemented.
To achieve the objective, it was necessary to deploy a smart meter fleet in one of the major municipalities of the Valencia Region (Spain), so the size of the project was quite a challenge. Furthermore, the newness of it implied the participation of multiple experts in order to achieve success.
The technological partnership between Contazara, Vodafone and GoAigua is key for the project.
Highly sensitive electronic water meters, manufactured and managed by Contazara, enable evolving from the prior network without replacing the meter fleet, thereby speeding up implementation. Thanks to the change we could obtain hourly consumption readings.
The information sent is received by Vodafone's NB-IoT (Narrowband-IoT) network, with innovative technology that facilitates the connection of devices that transmit small amounts of data for long periods of time. This way, we could maximise the efficiency and the battery life of meters, using the existing mobile network.
Demand forecasts, detection of leaks in the network and fraud alerts are some of the big benefits of the project
In this project, Vodafone channels data transmission through its communications network, using SIM cards and mobile telecommunications infrastructure, thus simplifying the communication between the device and the central receiving the information.
The data are integrated and normalised into the IoT and big data platform of GoAigua, which normalises how sensor data are acquired, stored, managed and shared in the entire organisation, thus providing a holistic vision of the integrated water cycle in real time. The platform integrates information from different providers and teams, without changing the existing software or hardware. The result brings together the information in a single panel to enable integrated management and a holistic vision of the integrated water cycle. In addition, based on the analysis of the information, it can create value added services.
- NB-IoT network deployment
The digitalisation of water management in Gandía entails the implementation of remote reading meters and the transmission of hourly consumption data, using Vodafone's NB-IoT communications infrastructure. This implies that the telecommunications company ensures that all areas will have a fully operating meter, even difficult to access areas.
Furthermore, the use of Vodafone's NB-IoT infrastructure means having a homogeneous, cutting-edge communications technology, solving potential connectivity problems. The deployment is done using an already existing mobile network, thus facilitating project implementation.
- Information transmission
The project includes the deployment of some 40,000 smart meters, to collect and transmit information about hourly consumption. The information transmitted by the meters is gathered in a BUS which communicates with an internal software module (PAR); the module concentrates the information and ensures it is sent to GoAigua's central server using the NB-IoT network. To make it possible, the project contemplated the replacement of the PAR in the meters.
- Analytics and services
GoAigua's IoT and big data platform integrates and normalises hourly data from remote readings. It can store, manage and distribute consumption information in real time, and analyse it based on big data architecture.
The services created based on it increase the efficiency of water management and improve citizens’ quality of life. For example, resources and consumption are optimised, internal leaks are detected earlier and more precisely, and consumption warnings are issued for empty homes and anomalies in the homes of residents that belong to vulnerable groups.
- Efficiency in integrated water cycle management
The main benefit of the project with regard to water and energy efficiency is obtaining hourly information on the consumption of drinking water, which can be received daily. This allows greater management capacity in terms of distribution, sanitation, and final consumption.
In terms of distribution, it can reduce the volume of drinking water to be treated and fed into the network thanks to enhanced performance, so that the amount of energy used to make water available to citizens is lower. Furthermore, hourly information about final consumption enables adjusting the volume of water that must be fed to meet the needs of users. In addition, the comparison of the volume fed into the network with hourly consumption data enables optimising the performance and detecting any leaks early and precisely.
On the other hand, more precise information on drinking water consumption enables better planning of sanitation resources based on the predicted consumption. Waste water treatment plants can this way benefit from significant savings in material and energy resources, including the volume of water to be treated, thus becoming more sustainable.
Hourly information about consumption enables adjusting the volume of water that must be fed to meet the needs of users
Concerning final consumption, reliable hourly consumption information enables detecting a larger number of unnecessary or accidental instances of water use, also at times of the day when they should not be happening. They indicate the existence of leaks or other type of uncontrolled behaviour. Early detection of large-volume leaks can shorten reaction times to address them, thus preventing excessive consumption and loss of energy during distribution.
Aside from reducing non-revenue water, this implies a lower economic cost for the Gandía City Hall, reducing problems in the streets resulting from network water losses, and leading to greater sustainability.
In regard to water cycle management, demand forecasts, detection of leaks in the network and fraud alerts are some of the big benefits of the project. Other advantages are calculating the water balance and client segmentation based on consumption patterns. Likewise, the efficiency of field work is enhanced thanks to the automated creation of work orders.
Finally, thanks to this project the municipal team has precise and centralised information about infrastructure and their condition, to assess which elements of the network should be replaced based on the total budget allocated.
- Value added services
The different actors involved in integrated water management benefit from the implementation of this project thanks to the practical applications of hourly water use monitoring.
Citizens are some of the main beneficiaries, because the project enables detecting internal leaks and receiving consumption warnings for empty homes, such as second homes. They can check their consumption through a mobile app and receive alerts due to incidents. In addition, with improvements in management, water supply cuts are something of the past.
Social services can provide special protection to vulnerable groups, as they can receive warnings if irregular consumption patterns or interruptions in consumption occur in their homes.
Moreover, the industry also benefits from the project. Companies can monitor hourly consumption and detect internal leaks more precisely, and calculate their water footprint.
- A project with new horizons
The implementation of this project means Gandía will have a quality NB-IoT network available and ready to be used, so it will be possible to integrate any Smart City project that uses that technology. In this regard, we should note that any sector and public that uses NB-IoT compatible sensors can benefit from this coverage.