Black spots in network coverage are a global problem that affects various industries, including the water utilities sector. These black spots refer to areas with limited or no access to reliable network connectivity, such as mobile and Internet services. The issue has repercussions on the water utilities industry worldwide, which heavily relies on efficient communication and data transmission.
The water utilities sector, regardless of geographical location, requires robust and consistent network coverage to ensure smooth operations. Reliable connectivity is vital for remote monitoring, data collection, leak detection, and maintenance activities within the industry. Effective communication networks facilitate the real-time exchange of information, enabling prompt response to emergencies, detection and resolution of issues, and efficient resource management.
However, black spots in network coverage present significant challenges to these operations. Importantly, these black spots may refer to small areas within a single building where coverage does not reach.
In areas with inadequate connectivity, water utilities face difficulties in monitoring critical infrastructure, such as water treatment plants, reservoirs, and distribution networks. Insufficient network coverage hampers the collection of accurate data on water quality, consumption patterns, and system performance-essential for informed decision-making and regulatory compliance.
Furthermore, black spots impede the adoption of advanced technologies and smart systems in the water utilities industry worldwide. These technologies, including Internet of Things (IoT) devices and sensors, rely on seamless connectivity to gather real-time data, enabling process automation and optimisation. The existence of black spots limits the deployment and effectiveness of such technologies, preventing the industry from fully capitalising on their benefits, such as enhanced efficiency, reduced water loss, and improved customer service.
Additionally, black spots in network coverage impact communication channels between water utilities companies, field personnel, and customers on a global scale. Field workers struggle to stay connected and transmit data back to central systems, potentially leading to delays in maintenance and repair activities. Customers residing in black spot areas face challenges in reporting issues or accessing essential information, adversely affecting the overall customer experience.
Smarter Technologies’ solution: Orion, the Real-time Data Network
Orion, The Real-time Data Network, provides a comprehensive solution to address the persistent issue of black spots in network coverage, as it can significantly mitigate the challenges associated with limited network connectivity for the water utilities industry.
Orion offers a revolutionary approach to network coverage; it is a low power, ultra-narrow-band LPWAN network. It is a network in a box: base stations (known as gateways) control all software, devices, and real-time API interfaces. The network’s gateways serve as communication hubs, facilitating the transmission of data from sensors deployed in different locations.
Orion is a plug-and-play solution. Simply power a device and it joins the low-power, long-range digital data network. Gateways listen, and your tags and sensors report on the location and status of almost any assets-every two minutes when static, every thirty seconds when in motion. Orion gateways can be mobile or static, and mains, battery or solar powered. Sensors can be retrofitted or integrated into other equipment.
These low power radio sensors enable efficient and reliable data collection, monitoring, and management. With its robust and scalable infrastructure, Orion provides widespread coverage and connectivity, enabling real-time access to critical information, optimising operations, and driving informed decision-making. Orion is already in 37 countries and has been used by governments and blue chips for mission-critical services worldwide.
By integrating the Orion Data Network into the existing infrastructure of the water utilities industry, seamless and reliable network connectivity can be achieved, eliminating black spots and ensuring efficient communication and data transmission across all operational areas.
Key benefits and features of the Orion data network:
Orion provides exceptional coverage, transcending signal limitations and ensuring connectivity even in remote and underserved areas, underground, and through concrete walls and floors. By leveraging a constellation of Orion gateways, the network offers ubiquitous network access, eliminating black spots that currently hinder efficient operations in the water utilities industry. This is especially important where there are black spots within a building or property.
High-speed data transmission
With its advanced wireless communication technologies, Orion enables high-speed data transmission, facilitating real-time monitoring, data collection, and remote management. This feature enhances the industry’s ability to promptly respond to emergencies, detect and resolve issues, and optimise resource allocation.
Reliable and resilient connectivity
Orion ensures reliable and resilient connectivity, minimising disruptions caused by environmental factors or infrastructure limitations. By leveraging multiple gateways and redundant systems, the network provides uninterrupted communication channels, crucial for maintaining operational continuity and minimising downtime.
Secure and encrypted data transfer
Orion employs state-of-the-art encryption protocols and robust security measures, safeguarding sensitive data transmitted within the water utilities industry. This ensures the integrity and confidentiality of information exchanged, mitigating the risks associated with data breaches or unauthorised access.
Real-time data and decarbonisation
Orion is perfectly positioned to enable decarbonisation plans for all utilities companies and the industry as a whole. By connecting gas, water, and electricity meters, or utilising Smarter Technologies’ advanced metering infrastructure, Orion gives you real-time energy data. This real-time data is available through our platform, SmarterView, or through APIs to any other front-end system.
Scalable and future-proof solution
Orion offers a scalable solution that can accommodate the evolving needs of the water utilities industry. As technologies advance and requirements change, the network can adapt and incorporate new functionalities, ensuring a future-proof infrastructure that supports long-term growth and innovation. The system is designed to scale endlessly by simply adding more sensors and gateways. The gateways allow for other sensors to connect to the network too, meaning that the solution is not restricted to eliminating blackspots, but to adding data points on all utilities and energy consumption.
Matthew Margetts is a Director at Smarter Technologies. His background includes working for blue-chip companies such as AppNexus, AOL/ Verizon, and Microsoft in the UK, Far East and Australia.