Jun 14, 2023

Monitoring water levels to prevent water scarcity in Switzerland

Julie Sylvest

Switzerland experiences notable seasonal fluctuations with expected water demand on the rise. In this article, we look at how IoT systems can play a crucial role to ensure efficient conservation of water.

When you imagine Switzerland, you probably picture beautiful scenes of lush mountains and crystal-clear lakes. Due to these natural features, it may appear that the country is not facing any significant water scarcity issues. However, Switzerland experiences notable seasonal fluctuations. It is anticipated that changes in alpine glacier and snow coverage will cause water flow to reduce during summer but increase in winter. As Switzerland’s lakes, rivers, and groundwater primarily rely on rain and snow for their water supply, the water demand is expected to rise, increasing the likelihood of water scarcity.

For the southern canton of Ticino, forest fires in combination with low rainfall have called for some citizens to use water sparingly. To better manage water and reduce wasted resources, we will look at an example of how municipalities in Switzerland could use IoT to prevent water shortages.

Building an IoT system for proper water management

IoT systems can play a crucial role to ensure efficient utilization and conservation of water. In the case of underground water cisterns, it can help measure the current fill level and react in case of anomalies. By deploying an underground sensor, connecting the device to a local network provider, and installing a visualization and notification system, IoT can effectively address periods of water scarcity and minimize wastage.

  • Deploying a sensor

A pressure sensor such as the Decentlab DL-PR26 is capable of remotely monitoring water levels in tanks. This particular sensor measures the relative pressure at the sensor head compared to the pressure at the cable end, indicating the depth of the water. This device additionally measures the temperature of the sensor head. It offers the advantage of remote real-time monitoring for several years without requiring battery replacements.

Decentlab DL-PR26 sensor

  • Connecting the device

To connect the device to the cloud, the Swisscom Low Power Network (LPN) covers 97% of the Swiss population, making it a great connectivity option in Switzerland. With the LPN coverage map, it is easy to see the coverage zones.

Using the akenza platform, it is easy to connect a sensor to a wireless network using a pre-built connectivity integration. This eliminates the need to set up an individual account with a network provider and makes the management of connected devices effortless.

Tests in situ realized by the akenza team

  • Visualizing data and receiving notifications

One of the most important considerations of the IoT system is how the incoming data is used. The akenza dashboard builder and the Grafana plugin allow customized data visualization according to specific needs. In this case, barometric pressure and water temperature levels can be easily monitored. Using the APIs provided by akenza, one can integrate the data and insights in third-party applications to streamline one’s automated workflow.

With the akenza Rule Engine, it becomes possible to trigger actions based on sensor data. For example, checking the water level (based on the pressure measurement) against a given threshold. If the water level is below the threshold, akenza sends a notification via SMS and/or email. This can help to act quickly to mitigate potential risks and avoid damages. This is especially important in this case as pumping air instead of water can damage the pumping hardware present in water cisterns and water distribution systems.

Example of data visualization with the akenza dashboard builder

Supporting further water management use cases

akenza supports many different use cases for water management such as sensing pH, water flow, turbidity, and conductivity. The platform offers features for low-power projects such as those based on LoRaWAN and secure data storage for as long as you need, to promote long-term responsible water usage for a sustainable future.

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