Australian smart water meter company WaterGroup has announced it has signed a five-year IoT connectivity partnership with local Sigfox provider Thinxtra.
The company claims this could lower the costs of implementing water conservation measures for organizations in both the private and public sectors.
Water conservation is a big issue in drought-prone Australia. The so-called ‘Millennium Drought’, which ran for a decade from 2001 onwards, brought crop failure and livestock losses in the countryside and water restrictions to many towns and cities.
This year, drought is in the headlines again: Australia’s east and west coast regions have received less than half the average rainfall typical for the second quarter of the year, according to data from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, and wheat production is on course to to miss official forecasts by as much as 20 percent.
Managing by metrics
Smart water metering provides the visibility needed to save water and to detect leaks – but the cost of connectivity has been a constraint for some organizations, according to Guenter Hauber-Davidson, managing director of WaterGroup. With its deal with Thinxtra, the company’s smart metering systems will be able to capture and send data on water use via the Sigfox low-power wide area network (LPWAN) technology.
The deal is the culmination of two years of research into multiple LPWAN wireless technologies at WaterGroup – and cost is apparently the main reason that Sigfox won out. This is partly because Sigfox operates on unlicensed spectrum, unlike NB-IoT and LTE-M, which use mobile operators’ networks and thus incur mobile operator charges.
Thinxtra, the provider of Sigfox in Australia, is working to ensure that its network covers 95 percent of the Australian people by the end of this year. It currently covers around 71 percent.
WaterGroup’s technology is already helping Australian organisations, from Quantus to the City of Melbourne, manage water better and save money, in the form of lower water bills.
Leak detection is a huge part of this picture. According to Hauber-Davidson, a local government customer Fairfield Council reckons it is is saving AU$4,500 a month as a result of early leak detection. “Another customer, the Australian National University (ANU), saved over $300,000 within six weeks of our smart meter system being installed,” he claims.
“Our smart water meter systems and solutions help overcome one of the major challenges facing large users of water, which is the shock they get when they realise that their quarterly water bill has gone up enormously due to a costly leak or large unauthorized use,” he said.
Said Thinxtra CEO Loic Barancourt: “By deploying complementary Sigfox network coverage on demand, we are paving the way for any councils or businesses to embrace IoT technology and deploy solutions such as WaterGroup’s smart water meter systems to reduce their costs.”