By Marc Pegulu, Vice President for IoT Strategy and Products at Semtech
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to make our environment – homes, offices, cities – smarter, more measurable and better connected to one another.
Connected devices are embracing IoT at a rapid pace. Leading analyst firm, Gartner, reported that around 8.4 billion IoT devices were in use in 2017, up 31 percent from 2016, and this will likely reach 20.4 billion by 2020. As IoT continues to be increasingly widespread, the need for connectivity solutions grows to ensure that the devices are working correctly, accurately capturing and analyzing data, as well as securely managing data. For these reasons, connectivity must be flexible and agile, in order to meet the network performance required for a wide variety of evolving IoT use cases, applications and device types.
In almost every industry, connectivity is enabling the development of new technologies and changing how cities are embracing big data. With the correct solution in place, a single tool can address the connectivity needs in a wide variety of diverse verticals across both rural and urban, dense areas.
In the past year, utilities have been at the forefront of the IoT revolution, with smart metering leading the charge. Smart metering has given utility product manufacturers a suitable medium for secure, flexible and reliable connectivity solutions. According to a recent report by the analyst firm ABI Research, in 2018, there was a base of 700 million smart meters installed and by 2023, this install base will double to reach 1.34 billion meters.
One application enabling smart connectivity in metering is LoRa devices and LoRaWAN protocol. LoRa devices and LoRaWAN protocol enables long-range connectivity of IoT devices and aids in connecting sensors to the Cloud. Its long-range performance coupled with its low power consumption enhances the overall performance of smart meters, by capturing actionable data in real time. Historically, traditional utility operations are laborious and require measurement and actions by field personnel. The cost and potential for human error can be a huge risk, depending on the deployment, and by implementing IoT-sensors to manage the meters and data collected from them directly, companies are able to lower costs and ensure accurate responses.
Smart electricity, water and gas meters have been proven leaders in the smart metering application industry, creating scalable, secure and reliable solutions to help companies. A few examples are below:
Smart Electricity Meters
Kiwi Technology collaborated with Precise Digital Economy (PDE), Thailand’s largest electricity facilities group, to develop the first smart city network of LoRa-based sensors to better regulate public utilities in Southeast Asia. The collaboration between Kiwi and PDE enabled the digital wireless network to be more widely used in the Asian market, while further upgrading the industrial level of smart utilities. Kiwi also provides its hardware devices and complete IoT network solutions, including end-to-end applications, network routers, platforms and a variety of applications, to create sustainable solutions. With its long range, low power and easy to deploy capabilities, LoRa-enabled devices regulate electricity use in Thai cities to maximize energy resources and reduce operational costs.
Smart Water Meters
Current estimates suggest the global smart water meter market will surpass $2 billion by 2020. LoRa-based metering sensors can be deployed into existing infrastructure either outdoors or indoors and offer strong connectivity in dense city settings. Semtech customer, Birdz, offers the ability to integrate IoT services and devices in the network, such as water leak detectors, fire hydrant monitors and water quality probes. By utilizing LoRaWAN-based networks, Birdz provides better coverage and is able to grow existing networks to connect even more devices to meet its customers’ needs.
In 2015, Eau du Grand Lyon (France) implemented a smart water network using Birdz’s smart water sensors (meters and noise correlators) integrated with smart sensors. The new water management approach generated significant benefits at Eau du Grand Lyon, including:
- Identification, geolocation and fast repairs of 1,200 new water leaks in the distribution network
- 1 million m3 of water saved annually in production due to improved performance of the distribution network
- Overall 8% increase of water network efficiency in four years, from 77% in 2014 to 85.2% in 2018
Smart Gas Meters
Since implementing a smart connected solution into its smart gas metering solutions, Chinese utility provider Goldcard Smart Group Co., has seen a reduction of water leading to an estimated 25 percent savings. The metering solution utilizes LoRa devices’ long-range platform to connect to the Cloud and monitor gas consumption data and battery charge and valve status. Data from the meter is accessible from Goldcard’s Cloud-based connection management platform, which parses the data packet, completes the settlement and forwards the accurate information to the utility provider for more efficient billing of their customers.
By implementing a smart metering infrastructure comprised of IoT-enabled sensors and gateways embedded, cities are able to work with utility companies to collect data remotely and therefore streamline operations. By understanding and embracing the impact of IoT on smart metering, cities will continue to be smarter and more efficient, while increasing productivity and driving down costs.
Author Marc Pegulu is Vice President for IoT Strategy and Products at Semtech.