Cooperation between Digita and Effectio aims to digitalise the water industry. New IoT technology will make water supply more cost-effective and facilitate the monitoring of water consumption.

The technology company Digita Ltd and Effectio Oy, an importer of IoT technology products and solutions, are offering a solution to water supply challenges that will benefit both consumer customers and water utilities.

“What happened to the electricity meters is now happening to water meters”, says Jari Makslahti, founder and CEO of Effectio Oy.

Water consumption monitoring could not be revolutionised without Digita, as a telecommunications network is needed to introduce the new technology. Digita is able to provide a nationwide IoT network based on LoRa technology. The LoRa radio signal can carry up to dozens of kilometres in open terrain.

IoT stands for Internet of Things, while LoRa refers to Long Range radio technology.

“The idea behind the IoT network is being able to monitor things that are measured relatively infrequently in real time. The IoT network is designed specifically for the transmission of small data volumes. An example of this is the consumption reading of a water meter”, Makslahti says.

Until now, water companies have billed their customers based on estimates and sent a settlement bill towards the end of the year, the sum of which is composed of the actual water consumption amount.

Water consumption has been monitored with mechanical water meters, the reading of which is reported to the water company by either the resident or the housing company. At the heart of the digitalisation of the water industry is the remotely readable IoT water meter.

“With the new meters, water utilities will be able to obtain water consumption data remotely. This makes everyday life easier for water companies, as the settlement bill system is inconvenient for all the parties involved”, Makslahti says.

IoT water meters send the water consumption reading to the water company once per day. With up-to-date monitoring, the company can also bill its customers according to consumption. Just as is the case with the billing of electricity consumption.

The new water meters are also effortless, as the built-in battery will last for more than 15 years in normal use.

Service platform for water consumption monitoring

When water utilities receive information on water consumption on a daily basis, they need a service platform for monitoring purposes. The My Water service developed by Digita allows property owners, property managers and maintenance companies to obtain a broad view of the water consumption of properties, and each resident can monitor their own consumption.

“Monitoring water consumption may encourage people to reduce their water use. For example, reducing the use of hot water in properties cuts down the carbon footprint of housing as energy consumption decreases”, Makslahti says.

The service platform offers many opportunities for consumer customers.

“In the future, it will be possible to monitor water consumption even on an hourly basis in the My Water service. An active monitoring service could be one of the additional services that water companies can choose to sell to their customers”, says Sales Manager Mona Miettinen from Digita’s IoT services.

Trunk network leaks under control

Water is always wasted by water utilities because there are occasional leaks in the trunk networks. The leaks are most often detected when the terrain becomes wet or the ditches flood. In the case of major leaks, the water supply to homes may stop in a specific area.

“Sometimes a leak can go unnoticed because the surrounding soil absorbs the water. Smaller leaks are also often difficult to detect”, Makslahti says.

With the current mechanical measuring method, it is difficult to calculate the actual amount of water that is wasted in leaks, and leaks are not always noticed. IoT technology provides a solution to this dilemma as well.

“Real-time readings provide the water utility with information on water consumption in the area, so it is possible to detect leaks and calculate the proportion of water wasted. We call this the water balance”, Makslahti says.

Groundwater levels

The technology can also be used to measure groundwater reserves. These measurements are made, for example, by water utilities and the ELY Centre.

“Until now, the groundwater level has been measured using a tape measure. It is laborious and there may be margins of error in manual measurements”, Makslahti says.

With IoT meters, it is possible to obtain daily data on groundwater reserves. Regular monitoring and more information are important at the national level.

“Increased amount of data allows the building of more accurate forecasting models of groundwater reserves in different months and seasons”, Makslahti says.

Digita’s LoRaWAN network

  • A national network that can be used for IoT (Internet of Things) solutions
  • Designed for wireless and energy-efficient data transfer
  • Based on LoRa (Long Range) technology, which is especially well suited for sending and receiving small amounts of data over long distances
  • Key features of LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Network) technology include two-way data communication, portability, tracking solutions and easy deployment
  • The sensors used to collect data are lightweight and easy to install wirelessly
  • A wide range of sensor solutions available

This article was originally published on the website as part of a commercial partnership.