Brunei Makes its Water Management Smart with LoRaWAN
January 12, 2022
Anian, a Brunei-based IoT solutions provider, is deploying a LoRaWAN® network throughout the Sultanate of Brunei, serving the country’s government, universities and private sector to improve the management of cities, environment and agriculture, with a focus on Smart Water use cases, such as monitoring river water levels, wastewater pumping stations, water quality and infrastructure. These solutions are deployed using Actility’s ThingPark platform and the application provided by IoThink Solutions.
Brunei in Search of IoT Solutions
Anian, a company founded in 2019, has taken the lead in Brunei’s domestic market by providing IoT solutions based on the LoRa™ standard. The Sultanate’s Ministry of Development, which had a roadmap to digitize various services, commissioned Anian to develop several use cases around water, following a request for proposals, to come up with a solution that included sensors, connectivity, and data management and application dashboards, albeit with the network operation and IoT applications as managed services, with the solution hosted in the Brunei government’s data center.
The initial need was to monitor water levels in Brunei’s rivers, as flooding is very frequent and often unpredictable. It is important to be warned as soon as possible at the onset of a flood in order to prepare the population and limit the damage. Other recurring problems in the country included the management of wastewater and pumping stations, which often broke down, tides and water on parking lots and highways, as well as the quality of water and the state of the various infrastructures.
The main challenge Anian faced was the difficulty of finding an integrated end-to-end solution that includes all the necessary elements, including hardware that must adapt to complex environments and potentially destructive weather conditions. This starts with the sensors: Anian tested various entry-level sensors with a promise of IP67 resistance that proved insufficient. Even the gateways required protection against storms.
However, Anian successfully carried out this mission, in particular thanks to its partnership with IoThink Solutions and Actility, which provided the bricks of the solution and all the necessary technical support.
Flash Flood Detection
Flooding is the number one natural hazard in Brunei. With a hot and rainy climate, the country experiences frequent and intense flooding episodes that can be triggered within hours. The Department of Drainage and Sewerage under the Ministry of Development, undertakes monitoring of the sewerage distribution network and river levels at various locations in Brunei Muara to help predict flooding and detect abnormalities in the sewerage system.
River level monitoring has until now been primarily based on telemetry technology or, in cases where this technology is not deployed or is inoperable due to breakage or theft, manual monitoring with significant mobilized manpower.
In order to create an effective system of preventive alerts on these hydrological events, Anian deploys ultrasonic sensors connected via LoRaWAN to monitor the water level in flood-prone rivers, a solution combined with rainfall volume monitoring as well as rain gauges/tipping buckets to measure the velocity of water currents.
The flash flooding problem affects for example a critical infrastructure: an airport. A nearby canal has a water level that can go from zero to overflowing in 20 minutes, preventing operations on part of this airport. While waiting for the work to be done to divert the canal, the IoT solution provides immediate alerts.
Protection of Sewage Pumping Stations
A significant portion of Brunei’s population lives in close proximity to rivers or in villages on stilts. Wastewater from the homes is treated and released into the rivers. When there are overflows in the pumping stations, the discharged water pollutes the rivers, creating a significant odor nuisance for the inhabitants, who complain, after which technicians are sent to clean and reset the pump.
This system is inefficient and has very negative financial risks. Pumps can shut down due to trash and debris, creating excessive vibration that leads to overheating and explosion. The financial impact of a pump break is exorbitant, as a pump costs between 50,000 and 100,000 euros. Until now, monitoring of facilities and equipment has relied primarily on telemetry and SCADA technology at only a few locations, in cases where this technology is not deployed or is inoperable due to breakage or theft; or no monitoring at all because of SCADA solutions pricing, just on reactive maintenance with workforce sent on site based on customer complain.
The solution implemented by Anian allows the monitoring of wastewater pumping stations, via continuous measurement of pump vibrations, the use of floats and LoRaWAN ultrasonic sensors in wells to alert if the water surface rises within 50cm of the cover, but also with the detection of workers’ presence of intruders or subcontractors, and smoke and dangerous gas including CO,H2S and CO2.
This is predictive maintenance, as it involves acting upstream in a preventive manner before customers complain, with the aim of public satisfaction. The goal of this project is to deploy IoT sensors for use cases such as water level in wells and catch basins, vibration, energy consumption of pumps and pressure in pipes.
Leakage Reduction and Water Quality
The Water department under the Ministry of Development was also looking to monitor water quality and the various related infrastructure to avoid many recurring problems.
Anian is deploying LoRaWAN sensors to Detect leaks, and monitor pressure and water quality in pipes that supplies residents, with sensors placed directly in the pipes to alert to quality issues and leaks, as well as in water towers and pipes. The gateways are purchased by the Ministry, installed on the water towers through Actility’s ThingPark Enterprise and a management contract. 11 gateways are already installed and 25-30 gateways are planned in the coming months with a goal of 200 eventually.
One of the major problems with current solutions is that SCADA sensors require a large infrastructure with a wired power supply, a shelter, and also a private network for telemetry with a telecom station. The copper cables used are expensive and subject to repeated theft in Brunei. The cost of such an installation can be as high as 150,000 euros.
But a wireless IoT solution allows to divide the costs in an impressive way, requiring only about 3,000 – 4,000 euros (after installation and application customization) the cost is divided by 20!
Scalable and Multi-Use IoT Solution
All these solutions were made possible thanks to a very efficient collaboration between Anian, Actility, and IoThink Solutions.
The use of LoRaWAN® connectivity is one of the main keys to success. LoRaWAN is a widely used wireless protocol that allows battery-powered sensors to communicate with IoT applications via a long-range, ultra-low data rate connection, resulting in longer battery life.
Actility provides the LoRaWAN IoT connectivity management solution with ThingPark Enterprise, a platform that helps customers build network infrastructure by managing LoRaWAN gateways, adding sensors, monitoring network operations and controlling the flow of data to application servers, enabling the deployment of large-scale IoT projects in record time.
IoThink Solutions is a software company specialized in IoT/M2M platforms and an integration expert. Thanks to its suite of IoT tools, KHEIRON IoT Suite, IoThink is able to address any IoT project in the following domains: Smart Building, Smart Energy, Smart City, Smart Industry and Smart Retail. The KHEIRON platform being intuitive, quick to learn and fully interoperable, the solution’s customers can connect any sensor (more than 1000 already decoded), use any connectivity and create and deploy any use case (already more than 2500 dashboards)! The solution is fully available in white label and also exists for mobile devices (on iOS and Android).
The Internet of Things (IoT) LoRaWAN™ network is a medium that is of strategic interest to the Government of Brunei as it allows for the development of broad application areas. In addition to drainage and sewerage use cases, here is a non-exhaustive list of areas that the Ministries of Development and Department of Public Works can work on in the coming years:
- Monitoring of water networks (pressure, flow, leaks, water quality, reservoir levels, pumps).
- Monitoring of tides by the departments concerned
- Use cases for intelligent buildings and energy savings (air quality, security, water and electricity consumption measurement, data center environment, parking).
- Bridge and road infrastructure monitoring (bridge pier vibration, crack monitoring, worker safety, wind and rain monitoring).
- River water quality, air quality, weather information.