LoRaWan project monitors seawater in Mauritius

  • March 30, 2022
  • Steve Rogerson

Digital Twin Services, Aqualabo and Kerlink have demonstrated how LoRaWan can monitor seawater quality in Mauritius.

The custom-designed service is providing government agencies and water-science specialists access to continuous data on key water-quality parameters.

The monitoring system, a proof of concept retained as part of the government-funded Blue Resilience innovation programme, was designed and installed by Digital Twin Services (DTS), a Mauritian technology provider specialising in Industry 4.0. DTS is integrating products from two French IoT companies, Aqualabo – a designer, manufacturer, and supplier of water analysis and testing devices and instruments – and IoT specialist Kerlink.

In July 2020, a Japanese bulk carrier called MW Wakashio ran aground on a coral reef south-east of Mauritius, near Pointe d’Esny, a wildlife sanctuary in the India Ocean. It released more than 1000 tons of fuel oil into the crystal-clear waters of the island, and formed an oil spill on the coast of the archipelago.

The spill caused the worst maritime pollution in the history of Mauritius, which depends heavily on its waters for its food security and ecotourism. Moreover, it is an area that has some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world.

The south-east coast of Mauritius includes Pointe d’Esny, rich in mangroves, and Blue Bay, known for its coral reefs and classified under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. Following the spill, the government launched the Blue Resilience programme, which was a call for innovative proposals to help Mauritian authorities manage the island’s blue economy and its resources.

The success of this proof-of-concept laid the foundation for setting up an island-wide, IoT real-time online monitoring system for seawater quality, as described in the Mauritian government’s request for proposals issued in February 2022. The project includes the appointment of a consulting firm to guide authorities on the establishment of an IoT-based lagoon water quality index. This will, in turn, promote the maintenance and management of beaches to support the local economy through increasing tourism and related business activities. It will provide officials with a continuous outlook on the quality of beaches by ranking beach water quality as excellent, good, fair or bad.

The first site of the pilot project was installed in October 2021 in Pointe aux Feuilles on the east coast of the island, and a second pilot site is expected to be deployed in the coming months in Albion on the west coast.

The pilot monitoring installation uses several stand-alone communicating modules from Aqualabo’s AquaMod range, digital sensors consisting of a stand-alone LoRaWan wireless waterproof module and an antenna.

The system transfers continuous seawater data over a private IoT network by Kerlink’s industrial grade Wirnet iStation outdoor gateways. Data are then instantly and securely transferred to a private IoT platform in the government’s data centre.

The data of various critical seawater parameters such as temperature, pH, redox potential, conductivity, salinity, turbidity and dissolved-oxygen level are displayed in the form of a dynamic graph and timeline that highlights targeted levels and critical thresholds for government specialists’ analysis and decision-making.

“The integration of the complete end-to-end solution was simple and quick, via the use of a private LoRa network server,” said Aqualabo CMO Severine Goulette. “Aqualabo’s sensors and devices ensure 24/7 monitoring to analyse key water-quality parameters for the continuous efforts to save the coral reef and improve the overall water quality.”

Johan Venkatasawmy, CEO of DTS in Mauritius, added: “The quick and simple installation of this pilot project has underscored LoRaWan’s reliability, versatility and suitability for this kind of seawater-monitoring project, which is one of our primary objectives as an island nation. We were very confident with the proposed solution thanks to the products and expertise of our partners Aqualabo and Kerlink.”

And Benjamin Maury, Kerlink’s head of international partnerships, said: “Kerlink’s Wirnet iStations have shown their robustness, performance, and flexibility worldwide to support LoRaWan-powered wildlife and natural-resource protection projects in very diverse environments. Collaborating with Digital Twin Services and Aqualabo in this vital project to help preserve Mauritius’s pristine setting is another strong example of Kerlink’s commitment to protect the environment.”