OLIVETTI and SMAT have launched an activity in the field - the first in Italy and one of the first in Europe – deploying the new NB-IoT (Narrow Band Internet of Things) cellular technology for measuring water consumption and optimising management of water supply networks: a fundamental step in the process of digital transformation of the entire water sector. The first meters having the technology to send measurements automatically over live NB-IoT networks are already in operation in Turin.

 

Olivetti, digital centre of the TIM Group, and SMAT, Società Metropolitana Acque Torino S.p.A, have signed an agreement for deploying the first NB-IoT (Narrow Band Internet of Things) cellular network in the field in Italy, and provided in collaboration with Huawei for the connection of water meters notoriously difficult to reach with the mobile radio technologies available today.

NB-IoT technology – based on a standard frozen in June 2016 by 3GPP as an evolution of the LTE network – anticipates some of the most significant aspects of future 5G networks, bringing considerable savings by prolonging device battery life times, increasing coverage significantly with respect to existing networks and simplifying processes with cost reductions in relation to terminals and security issues intrinsic to cellular networks in the licensed band. These features make NB-IoT technology particularly appropriate for use in metering and many other Internet of Things applications.

The new partnership between Olivetti and SMAT allows pooling of capabilities to apply the new cellular technology in the water field, and creates synergies for optimising the new IT platforms and new operating processes to achieve consumption monitoring in real-time.

The water services manager obtains a dual advantage: more efficient management of supply networks and more transparent management for the final User who, through this technology, becomes a more responsible consumer.

The objective of the partnership is to validate the data transmitted by the new technology. The first step consists of identifying “problematic” locations, that is, meters that are hard to reach by radio and by the network monitoring points for water transportation and distribution, installing at these sites devices equipped with the new cellular technology. The next step consists of collecting performance data through connectivity and collecting information useful for implementing the corrective actions necessary.

Olivetti and SMAT are currently analysing the performance of NB-IoT connectivity under normal operating conditions, assessing instrumentation, processes and operation in the field.

Services deriving direct benefits from NB-IoT are typically those related to Utilities and all applications related to Smart Cities through the widespread installation of sensors in places that are normally difficult to reach by cellular network signals, such as underground locations or cellars – a very high number of which are present in Italy. Another advantage will be the reduction in the number of maintenance operations required at the sites mentioned.

“As far as concerns technological innovation - comments Paolo Romano, Managing Director of SMAT -  a part of the development activities at our Research Centre is aimed at optimisation of the “intelligent systems”,  providing them with the capacity to provide information in real-time to the “advanced” remote control station, monitor the rate of water fed into the networks and produce an estimate of water demands for the following hours. The collaboration with Olivetti, therefore, constitutes a further building block in the development of these activities, having as an offshoot an improvement in the service provided to users”.

“Together with SMAT we are continuing along the path pursued for some time now that allows companies from every sector to accelerate adoption of IoT and obtain successful results”- affirms Mario Polosa, Olivetti IoT Marketing Manager. “The new NB-IoT technology, working side-by-side with the many wireless technologies already used in cellular and capillary fields, will soon provide coverage at national level; as a result, our customers will be able to bring IoT services more rapidly onto the market, certain of the reliability of the networks and platforms supplied by the TIM Group and Olivetti.”