Can LoRa-balloons lift collection of IoT-data?
VA SYD purifies, delivers and assure the quality of our most fundamental necessity - drinking water. They also take care of what is flushed down the drain, so-called wastewater, to protect the sea and lakes and streams. VA SYD is a municipal association with responsibility for water and sewage treatment in Burlöv, Eslöv, Lomma, Lund and Malmö, as well as collection of household waste in Burlöv and Malmö.
VA SYD is also responsible for stormwater infrastructure and management in these municipalities. Stormwater includes, for example, water that flows over open ground surfaces, buildings or other structures, down into the stormwater system and then out to rivers, lakes or other watercourses.
Together with Sydvatten and NSVA, VA SYD runs the joint company Sweden Water Research, which conducts research and development in the field of water. At VA SYD, a major focus in the development is on digitizing their entire water system.
VA SYD invests, among other things, in digital measurement in the water system. All of VA SYD's customers have water meters that are used to read the water consumption in a property. Traditionally, these water meters are read manually by the customers themselves at least once a year. To streamline this process, VA SYD is currently replacing all 65,000 water meters with remotely read meters. To read the meters remotely LoRa technology is used, which allows the transmission of data over long distances with little energy consumption. LoRa is a data transfer technology commonly used for IoT solutions and the technology therefore has an important role in urban development.
A challenge with LoRa is to get good enough coverage at all water meters because the meters are often located in basements. In general, a higher placement of LoRa gateways means better coverage, but also the distance to what you are reading is an important factor. In addition to water towers, VA SYD has a limited number of high-lying facilities where the location of LoRa gateways is favorable.
In order to achieve both a desired height and a better distance to more water meters, VA SYD is considering whether it would not be possible to set up flexible gateways at several points around the region. One possibility would be to wire LoRa gateways to balloons at strategic points, that are automatically winched up in the air to read the meters for a few hours when the weather allows.
This project aims to investigate whether VA SYD's idea is theoretically and practically possible. How could such a solution be designed technically? Has anything similar been done in an IoT context before? Is any other type of technology needed in addition to LoRa gateways? How high does the balloon need to fly to be able to strengthen the coverage and within what radius from the balloon can you expect good coverage from the placement of the water meters in the basement? How is the water meters’ so called Spreading Factor affected when a temporary gateway is introduced? In addition to the purely technical issues, other relevant aspects can also be taken into account, such as whether there are any legal obstacles or other practical limitations, but also economic aspects in such a system.
The project can be carried out as a thesis on bachelor's or master's level. The work must be based on a theoretical study, but there is also room for practical experiments. Final scope for the project are set in consultation with your academic supervisor and the contact person at VA SYD.