The three corporations have launched a pilot based on Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) communications standard for hourly monitor water consumption in different areas of the community of Madrid. With this agreement, Vodafone, Contazara and Canal de Isabel II are innovating in testing NB-IoT technology in the area of remote monitoring in the water sector.
Vodafone, Contazara and Canal de Isabel II has announced the launch of a project for the remote intelligent meter reading by the company responsible for the integral water cycle in the community of Madrid.
The initiative arose at the beginning of 2017, with an announcement made by Canal de Isabel II who indicated their interest in carrying out a series of pilots to test the feasibility of NB-IoT (Narrowband Internet of Things), a recently emerged standard of LPWA, as a solution for the remote reading of water meters against other options. This announcement by Canal de Isabel II was directed to big communications carriers, as well as manufacturers of meters.
As a result of this announcement, Vodafone, Contazara and Canal de Isabel II have signed a collaboration agreement. As a result of this agreement, the three corporations were the first companies to test the NB-IoT technology in the remote reading in the water sector.
The project consists of the deployment of 64 communications modules, consisting of a remote hourly reading from about 1,200 meters distributed in different geographical areas in the city of Madrid, including problematic locations such as the Royal Botanical Garden or the Prado Museum. These modules, designed by Contazara, monitor the consumption of water from each location hourly. This information is transmitted wirelessly via the Vodafone network using NB-IoT technology.
The objective is to analyze the feasibility of the use of NB-IoT technology applied to the efficient management of water consumption. NB-IoT technology has features that, suggest that it may be feasible to address communication challenges in the water sector, in which the requirements of coverage, transmission and battery are very demanding.
In this sense, this technology significantly improves energy consumption in wireless transmission of information and increases the capacity of the system and its spectral efficiency. This is especially useful in the so-called ‘deep cover’: greater reach and penetration of coverage, more suitable for basements, meter rooms or other locations with difficult radio frequency accessibility with today’s technologies.
Vodafone deployed the first NB-IoT commercial network in different Spanish cities in February 2017 and, after a progressive deploy, the commercial network is now available in more than 33 cities spread throughout the national territory.
For Vodafone, this agreement represents a step forward in the development of NB-IoT technology applications. “The results obtained in the last months, in terms of successful receipt of measurements and battery consumption, seem to point that NB-IoT is a viable technology for this area. The application of this technology will result in improving processes that will affect not only the extent of consumption and operation of water supply, but also the relationship with customers and the better understanding of the use of this resource”, says Daniel Barallat, IoT country manager at Vodafone Spain.
Juan Ignacio Zubizarreta, Commercial Director of Canal de Isabel II, stated that this project is framed within an important strategic line of the company for the period 2018-2030, in fact becoming one of the star plans of these strategic initiatives, in particular the one which aims to strengthen the commitment and closeness with the user. Until now, the lack of standardization in the remote reading systems in the market had prevented that Canal de Isabel II -which should guarantee the greatest possible concurrence in its bidding processes- could develop a project of this type.
With the emergence of NB-IoT, technology which is a communications standard led by the 3GPP organization, and where the communications infrastructure is managed by commercial operators of telecommunications, this aspect would be solved. In addition, this technology provides a better and greater coverage by increasing the degree of penetration into the Interior, and also lower power consumption of the devices, key aspects for a scenario in which water meters are t sometimes in complex locations, as basements or meter rooms below ground, and without the possibility of electrical power supply.
For Canal de Isabel II, the ultimate goal of this project is to offer customers a more complete information on how they are making their consumption, helping them to detect potential incidents in their installation that may cause a loss of water and thereby reduce the impact that this type of incidents can have on their bill, as well as to make consumption as respectful and efficient with the environment as possible. But also this system brings Canal de Isabel II more information to make management and operation of distribution network as efficient as possible. All this is to ensure sustainable management of a resource essential and limited as it is the water of the community of Madrid. The public company has more than one decade studying the use of remote reading advanced technologies that improve business and the service provided to its clients in the community of Madrid.
For CONTAZARA this innovative project is to demonstrate once again the enormous advantage that supposes the use of digital meters of water with standard protocol according to UNE82326:2010, that with a single module NB-IoT is sufficient for reading date from up to 50 meters away, reducing costs in hardware, communications and maintenance significantly. For many years Contazara has supplied these types of meters in Spain’s large cities, from now on, these users will have another communications system available to read them remotely, with large number of consumption data for an advanced management of the water supply.