Spain pioneers 5G smart meter for water

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Spanish water industry service provider Idrica is piloting the first 5G device for remote reading of water.

The device, which has been developed over the past year, is based exclusively on 5G technology and is intended for use in Internet of Things (IoT)scenarios with millions of devices connected in small areas.

Features include improved energy efficiency, guarantee of service in adverse conditions and reduced latency to milliseconds, while other benefits of 5G technologies include network slicing for multi-service provision and edge computing.

“In the future, there are going to be millions of sensors connected in very small areas. 5G technology is far superior in terms of capabilities to any of the existing technologies applicable to the water industry, specifically smart meters,” says Carlos Tejedor, Instrumentation & Smart Metering Specialist at Idrica.

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“Its implementation in end-to-end water management will enable us to read consumption in real time, detect events such as network failures and leaks much earlier and resolve them faster.”

The development, believed to be a world first, forms part of Spain’s national 5G plan. It is being piloted in Valencia in a project for real-time remote reading of drinking water consumption with a focus on comparing the advantages of 5G with NB-IoT.

The pilot is taking place with thirty water meters on the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia‘s campus, which have been selected for their location in areas of poor coverage and difficult access, such as basements, underground passages and parking lots.

In addition to comparing the two technologies, the meters will be monitored to check whether they are working correctly as smart meters, whether the infrastructure communicates and sends readings, the extent of sensor implementation and the quality of the data signal at specific depths.

Water consumption and the energy management of the devices will be analysed and alarms triggered by leaks or poor data communication will be monitored.

Partners in the project include the telco Orange, which is leading the joint venture, Valencia water company Global Omnium and 5G R&D company Fivecomm.