Urban parks are sometimes described as the “lungs” of a city. Fighting pollution, encouraging biodiversity and helping to control temperatures, they instantly benefit our health and wellbeing, as well as the environment at large.
But to keep these spaces green takes a lot of water. As a scarce resource, we need to do more to protect it and smart irrigation can help.
In agriculture, we’ve seen the benefits IoT sensors can bring. Collecting data from across the farm, they can support better soil and crop health, effective water use, and precision fertilizer and pesticide application. What if we used a similar model to look after our green urban spaces too?
Working with Prague 2 City District, we’re doing exactly that.
Halving water consumption
Teaming up with CleverFarm, who turned the existing irrigation system in the Čapek Brothers' Gardens in Vinohrady into a smart one, we cut water consumption by 56%.
Placing sensors under the surface of the ground, we linked them up to run on our NB-IoT network so that they could get deep coverage in hard-to-reach areas and have a longer battery life of up to 10 years, so causing minimal disruption to the gardens.
These are then connected to CleverFarm’s system, which is controlled by a unit that allows remote opening or closing of valves.
Unlike standard irrigation systems, which are automatically set at intervals and irrigate the same amount of water over and over again, Prague 2 can now monitor the soil and climate. The sensors will then automatically trigger the valves, providing the necessary amount of irrigation to individual sections.
This stops unbalanced water dosage which saw some areas of the gardens suffer from drought, while metres away the ground was sodden. It also saves Prague 2 hectolitres of water per year and tens of thousands in terms of electricity costs.
The project has been such a success that this innovative system has now been introduced to Riegrovy Sady, one of the most visited parks in Prague.
Water management in Africa
Whilst water scarcity effects every continent, South Africa is one of the driest countries in the world. Through our Centre of Competency IoT.nxt®, we have already been working to improve water resource management in this region.
Starting in Johannesburg, we focused on smart water storage to help a pharmaceutical company drive efficiency and water security within its office park.
Using IoT, it receives a complete view of water levels in the park’s tanks and receive alerts when water has stopped. The business also gets updates when the pumps have stopped working.
This means maintenance teams can take corrective action straight away before problems occur or worsen.
We are also supporting governments and have worked with a rural municipality to deliver real-time insights as to the condition and performance of its network. Local governments can now get notifications of faulty meters instantly, receive an accurate view of consumption and monitor flow rates to detect losses or shortages in supply.
Creating a greener future
At Vodafone, we believe business success should not come at a cost to the environment and we are working hard to minimise our own impact, while also supporting our business customers to do the same.
For example, the agricultural industry is responsible for roughly 70 percent of water withdrawals worldwide, playing a major role in water pollution.
As we look to the future, water scarcity will only worsen as our population grows and climate change continues to impact the world around us.
It’s clear that technology has an important role to play in reducing water waste and improving management of this precious resource.
IoT, in particular, can give us a better view of the supply and demand and will be critical for driving out waste, extending asset life, improving utilisation and reducing the carbon impact.
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