Semtech LoRa provides drought early warning

  • August 24, 2022
  • Steve Rogerson

Semtech is working with New Zealand’s IoT Ventures and connectivity provider Lacuna Space to develop a drought early warning system.

IoT Ventures used California-based Semtech’s LoRa devices to develop the network of low-cost rainwater tank and rain monitors to analyse water consumption and rain forecasts in remote New Zealand and South Pacific Island communities.

The water monitoring system uses low-power, small form-factor sensors, which are solar powered and provide an in-field life of seven to ten years without intervention, according to IoT Ventures. In addition, the drought warning system is starting to use Semtech’s long-range frequency hopping spread-spectrum (LR-FHSS) satellite connectivity to integrate seamlessly with a terrestrial network using LoRaWan, delivering flexibility for isolated locations. It can be deployed and managed by local citizens without requiring major internet service provider (ISP) infrastructure.

“The remote location of many Pacific Island countries makes it challenging to provide emergency water supplies during droughts and, if an island runs out of water, it may take several weeks for water to be transported,” said Matt Hector-Taylor, co-founder at IoT Ventures. “By combining low-cost sensors with LoRa and strong connectivity signal capabilities, the joint solution helps provide consistent access to clean drinking water for citizens of some of the most remote islands in the world, supports the United Nations sustainability goals and reduces crisis response.”

Droughts threaten water supplies, and water waste is already a crucial issue worldwide. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that as much as half of the water used outdoors is lost due to wind, evaporation and runoff caused by inefficient irrigation methods and systems. By implementing smart water monitoring infrastructure comprised of sensors and gateways using LoRa devices and the LoRaWan standard, governments and utility providers can proactively and efficiently collect data to streamline operations to manage costs and appropriately allocate resources.

LoRa-enabled services can be key to realising the value of the IoT and, specifically, reduce water waste and quickly identify and optimise a community’s water distribution network. LoRa can empower utility providers worldwide with smart, sustainable and efficient management capabilities.

“As climate change affects water availability worldwide, Semtech’s LoRa devices and the LoRaWan standard help governments anticipate and mitigate water supply issues,” said Marc Pégulu, vice president at Semtech. “The drought early warning system from IoT Ventures and Lacuna Space will provide communities scalable, highly-accurate resource management capabilities.”

New Zealand’s IoT Ventures delivers low-power remote end-to-end IoT using LoRaWan technology to develop end-to-end services that are cheaper, more reliable and deliver greater insights. It designs and builds scaleable services leveraging its core systems and engineering capability reinforced by deep systems integration experience and a strong but flexible methodology.

Lacuna Space is a UK and Dutch entity headquartered in Oxford, UK, and specialises in scalable direct-to-satellite IoT based on LoRaWan. The Lacuna network enables multiple constellations of Lacuna and third-party satellites to meld together, forming a robust and field-proven IoT service. Operating a wholesale model, Lacuna empowers service providers and systems integrators to extend the limited coverage footprint of networks using LoRaWan around the globe with ubiquitous low-power, low-cost connectivity.