What are LoRaWAN networks and how are they useful in the water cycle?

LoRaWAN networks are becoming a viable alternative thanks to their efficient, low-cost connections and their versatility in numerous water cycle applications, centering on monitoring as the key to greater efficiency.

Digital transformation is the biggest challenge facing all water utilities, requiring the right technology to address the main issue of data transfer and analysis.

In this sense, LoRaWAN networks are a technological ally capable of providing the right backup thanks to their comprehensive, flexible coverage and low energy consumption. This significantly decreases costs and provides a better return on investment. In addition, they are reliable assets thanks to excellent service levels.

What are LoRaWAN networks?

The name LoRaWAN includes one of these networks’ main characteristics, with the first part being an acronym of Long Range. In this sense, LoRaWAN networks are long-range, low-power protocols whose purpose is to connect things on the Internet.

However, in most cases, when we talk about this topic, we tend to think of 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G, WiFi or Bluetooth. However, LoRaWAN networks are characterized not only by their long range, estimated at over 15 kilometers, but also by their low power consumption and the fact that they are one of the most widely used networks for data transfer in Europe. However, this low-frequency network does not support the transmission of large amounts of data.

As such, LoRaWAN networks are characterized by:

  • Their versatility: LoRaWAN networks are adaptable and can be relied upon for many business activities, beyond their initial intended use.
  • Their “vertical” scalability, thanks to which several devices can be connected to the network according to the needs of the municipality and the customer.
  • Their coverage range of over 15 kilometers.
  • The secure nature of their communications, thanks to triple encryption.
  • Low battery consumption lasting between five and twelve years.
  • The costs derived from their connectivity are lower than those of other protocols because they do not use licensed frequencies.
  • Installation is simple, requiring no infrastructure or wiring.
  • Their accuracy is not affected by indoor or outdoor locations.

Considering the advantages they offer, it is not surprising that some water utilities are beginning to implement this type of network to improve communication between their nodes, enhancing customer service and management efficiency. In fact, LoRaWANs are widely used in Europe.

Five applications for LoRaWANs in the water cycle

LoRaWAN networks’ characteristics can be very useful in various applications in the water cycle to improve management and customer service. The following five examples show how LoRaWANs can help water utilities:

1.Smart irrigation

Real-time moisture information can be obtained thanks to sensor interconnection, improving the irrigation cycle, and reducing the water footprint.

2.Asset and infrastructure monitoring

They can provide information on the status of utilities’ assets, shortening response times in case of possible failures.

3.Leak detection

As in the previous case, the sensor system implemented using LoRaWANs detects leaks in the network, thereby reducing the non-revenue water ratio.

4.Monitoring of extreme events

Data cross-referencing, together with historical records, helps to predict possible extreme events such as floods, meaning preventive measures can be taken

5.Water resource management

The installation of LoRaWAN sensors gives utilities information about their water footprint and enables them to improve their resource management to reduce their water footprint and their costs.

Case study: CELLNEX at Global Omnium

LoRaWAN networks send information to utilities to help them achieve their objectives. However, technological solutions are required to process and standardize this data. GoAigua, the intelligent platform that unifies information processes, since it is agnostic, reads LoRaWAN data, providing its clients with a holistic process overview.

In this sense, CELLNEX, a wireless telecommunications infrastructure and services company, was chosen by Global Omnium to improve water metering. Global Omnium’s clients were looking for scalable, reliable, cost-effective solutions to remotely monitor water consumption in a multi-municipal environment. The aim was to connect the different metering devices and transfer data, as essential elements to improve their activities and the quality of the service provided to citizens.

CELLNEX provided a scalable, easy-to-deploy LoRaWAN network infrastructure, which adapts to the customer’s connectivity requirements, and to the backend server to manage connectivity.

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