Intelligent monitoring via low-power wide-area network

LPWAN (Low-Power-Wide-Area-Network) is ideal here: It combines extremely long ranges of several kilometers with deep underground and interior penetration. It also offers very long battery life of up to two decades and thus reduces maintenance costs.

The technology can also be used to integrate renewable energy management systems with storage facilities. With data on the performance of resources such as photovoltaic systems, fuel cells and wind turbines as well as on demand, renewable energies can be managed much more efficiently and CO2 emissions reduced.

Broad compatibility

LPWANs such as the open LoRaWAN® standard are suitable for all utility companies in the gas, electricity and water supply. The technology is largely compatible with other data standards; making it a secure IoT connectivity protocol for utility companies that meets the needs of network operators.

DLMS (Device Language Message Specification), for example, is an ISO / IEC-recognized standard for intelligent electricity meters that is widely used in the utility industry.

DLMS is specified by the DLMS User Association, an international, non-profit organization that has been tasked by the IEC with establishing, maintaining and proposing a clear certification. This encourages utilities and meter manufacturers to develop and support the same interoperability with meters regardless of the communication media.

LoRaWAN can support M-Bus data messages, a European standard defined by CEN and the OMS Association for the transmission of meter data via a communication bus. It is most commonly used in Europe to read the energy consumption of water, gas and heat meters.

Fresh ideas for the water supply

In addition to intelligent consumption measurement, LPWAN-networked modules help in the fight against unrecognized water volumes. Typically, more than 25 percent of the clean water produced by utility companies is lost for a variety of reasons, such as. through leakage, inaccuracy, abuse and inefficiency.

Components networked with LPWAN can also provide information about water quality and pollutants to protect watercourses and fish farms. They can help utilities measure water quality parameters such as conductivity, temperature, chlorine and dissolved oxygen in reservoirs and other sources.

LPWAN also offers utilities opportunities to grow their business with IoT applications for smart cities and communities. The simple connection of intelligent IoT modules to a network enables the conversion of data into knowledge and thus into actionable decisions. LPWAN helps utilities lower costs, increase security, reduce waste and achieve greater customer satisfaction.

Wireless data for the whole city

For example, Mainova is building a city-wide wireless data network based on LoRaWAN with the city of Frankfurt. The network can not only be used to read meters for energy and water supply or to monitor district heating, but could also enable vehicle parking spaces to be managed, green areas to be watered and buildings to be monitored.

In the future, Mainova wants to integrate intelligent solutions with other partners and be able to offer them new services based on the LPWAN infrastructure. This is said to bring immense benefits to the citizens living and working in the city.

The primary schools in Otterberg, Otterbach and Katzweiler have also equipped their electricity, heat and water consumption meters with LoRaWAN sensors. Through the link with the Pfalzwerke data platform, unusual consumption patterns, which suggest a leak or a light that has not been switched off in a classroom, can be forwarded to the city administration by e-mail.

LPWAN building blocks are an important part of the green mosaic – linking building blocks with networks helps utilities save resources, bring greater benefit to their customers, and promote the development of smart cities that can improve the lives of all of us.

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