How Smart Metering Technology Makes Smart Islands a Reality

Dec. 23, 2022
How smart metering technology can benefit island communities and conserve water.

Smart cities are a well-known concept, but what about smart islands? Looking to transform coastal communities, where the effects of climate change are increasingly apparent, digitally-enabled services and solutions can make a vast difference.

Now more than ever, island communities are seeking out approaches to modernize their municipal operations to increase energy efficiency. One mode of transformation is using the Internet of Things (IoT) to conserve water.

Digitizing Water Management

Historically, when water management systems need maintenance, personnel must provide on-site support. By replacing outdated, manual processes with digital solutions, utilities gain visibility into leaks and inefficiencies without needing to visit the site. Maintenance needs can be anticipated, reducing costs and ensuring timely responses to critical issues.

There are many solutions that can save on costs and accelerate sustainability efforts to reduce water waste across a municipal area through the power of real-time data insights, including:

  • Remote metering that wirelessly measures usage data without needing manual checks;
  • Leak detection services that measure water pressure and flow through piping networks to instantly detect anomalies and failures; and
  • Smart sensors that monitor total water usage footprint at a granular level.

Smart metering technology gives stakeholders the power of data-driven decision making. The ability to access and analyze massive amounts of information enables intelligent decision making for utility operators, municipalities and end-users.

Connectivity is driving the development of new technologies and is changing how enterprises as well as smart cities, towns and islands can embrace big data. In the case of water management, IoT technology is leveraged to collect data remotely and streamline operations.

The Cook Islands

Located in the South Pacific Ocean, the Cook Islands have embraced IoT to enhance energy metering, water management, asset tracking and many more critical components of infrastructure. The Islands are collaborating with ICTnexus to incorporate Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN), which offer battery-efficient, ubiquitous wide-area connectivity. LPWAN technology is matched with long-range, low-power IoT-enabled sensors to bring reliable and efficient connectivity and sensing to Cook Islands infrastructure.

Working within a large smart islands program, enlisting LPWAN connectivity enables a variety of IoT applications that were previously prohibitive due to cost. These applications span across the islands’ power grid, utility meters, gas meters, turbidity sensors for water treatment plants, water flow and treatment sensors, water tank level sensors, wastewater monitors, smart water meters and more. Leaks can waste nearly one trillion gallons of water annually, so implementing smart water meters across the islands proves critical not only in reducing waste, but also in reducing water usage costs. As water costs are increasing faster than any other household utility at an average of 4.2% per year.

IoT Offers the Cook Islands Greater Use of Natural Resources

With a multitude of technology being deployed across the islands, island officials can see substantial impacts on the Cook Island Climate Change Program, which aims to make island utilities more sustainable. The Cook Islands can curb their environmental impact by decreasing waste from usage of energy, gas, electricity and water – all precious resources in island communities – with sensing solutions placed throughout a variety of natural resource meters. While optimizing use of the island’s resources, overall operations will be enhanced as each of these applications will also feature a management platform for operators to view data in real time in order to effectively manage the Island’s ongoing operations.

Scalability is another significant benefit the program experiences due to IoT technology. The program started with a pilot on Rarotonga (The Cook Islands’ most populous island) and, from there, will scale across the other islands based on insights gathered from the initial deployment. The notable capabilities of long-range devices and LPWAN connectivity will provide ease of deployment and replicability as this comprehensive project is established throughout the Cook Islands.

With the addition of IoT technology and its integration into key parts of island life, island residents and visitors can be confident that their homes and lodgings are working smarter to create a higher quality of life.

Not only does IoT technology impact water resources from a utilities perspective: system sensors can also alert residents of impending emergencies. In the South Pacific Ocean, risk of natural disasters such as tsunamis is high, posing a significant threat to island residents. By sensing water levels and weather pattern data, alerts can deploy within minutes of anomaly detection. The more data that island officials have on upcoming weather patterns, the better they can communicate safety precautions with key stakeholders, mitigating loss of life and property.

Island Life Becomes Safer and More Efficient

The people of the Cook Islands benefit greatly by the data offered from IoT technology. IoT systems can reduce environmental impact via natural resource meters, establish efficient and reliable asset tracking and enhance emergency response programs, making communities more sustainable, healthier and smarter.

IoT sensors matched with flexible and reliable connectivity platforms provide accurate, real-time data visibility into key aspects of smart water management to prevent waste. Preventing waste is critical in not only conserving natural resources, but in greater efforts in treating our planet with the respect it deserves.