1,000 smart water meters installed in Antwerp
A first in Belgium! Over the next few weeks, 1,000 smart water meters will be installed in homes in Antwerp. This unprecedented initiative is possible thanks to, among others, the smart network implemented and managed by ENGIE M2M based on the Sigfox global connectivity solution dedicated to the Internet of Things.
The current water meters measure individuals’ consumption of running water. However, this is all they can do and they cannot pass on readings or detect excessive consumption or leaks. The solution? Replace them with smart meters.
Smart meters tested for a year
Belgium’s first smart water meters will soon be installed. Around 1,000 homes in Antwerp will be fitted with the meters, with 20 smart meters being reserved for industrial connections.
These first meters will serve as a year-long test. If the pilot phase meets the objectives, a further 205,000 smart meters will be installed over the next three to four years. In short, every Antwerp resident should have a smart water meter by 2020.
This unique initiative is the brainchild of Water-link, the integrated water company serving central Antwerp; Hydroko, a company specialising in the production of valves for meters; and ENGIE Fabricom.
The ENGIE M2M network is working hard
The smart meters communicate with Water-link via the network implemented and managed by ENGIE M2M based on the Sigfox global connectivity solution dedicated to the Internet of Things.
Sigfox is completely independent of existing communication networks (i.e. those used by smartphones). Communication is bidirectional, meaning that the meters can send as well as receive messages over the network and it is therefore possible to control them remotely.
In addition, Sigfox uses a particular bandwidth that emits waves even in difficult areas, such as cellars in urban areas.
Lastly, the meter batteries have an exceptionally long service life as the Sigfox solution provides connectivity that is 200 to 600 times more energy efficient than conventional cellular networks.
The benefits of smart meters
The data transmitted by the smart meters over the ENGIE M2M network are collected by Hydroko and analysed by Water-link. These data will make life easier for users and the network operator. How?
- Enhanced comfort: No more having to submit meter readings or wait around while someone opens and closes the meter. Everything is handled via the network and smart meter.
- Invoice tracking: No more unwelcome surprises when the bill arrives. You know the extent of your consumption in real time.
- Less waste: The meter can quickly be shut down remotely if there is a break in the pipeline or threat of freezing over, for instance. It also detects leaks and can also be used to rapidly call out a response team.
- More security: The smart meter significantly minimises the risk of fraud and protects customers from con artists who pretend to be water company employees.
- Sustainable management: Accurate tracking of water consumption makes for more efficient use.
Go digital to ‘better experience energy’
Digitisation is one of the four pillars of ENGIE Electrabel’s strategy to have everyone ‘better experience energy’. Investing in and creating a wireless network intended to interconnect connected objects was therefore necessary to roll out apps related to these objects in Belgium.
The Water-link project is an initial practical example of the use of the Sigfox global connectivity solution. A dozen other innovative and very practical applications should also be released in the near future. They will, for instance, render energy and maintenance management more efficient, as well as affording greater control over energy bills. ENGIE Electrabel together with ENGIE M2M, ENGIE Cofely and ENGIE Fabricom will market a range of services and solutions associated with this very efficient technology.