Sigfox connects drains in Marseille

  • November 29, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

French green-tech start-up GreenCityZen has selected Sigfox to connect 5000 drains on the Marseille sewerage network.

The technology allows Seramm – Marseille’s sanitation department – to retrieve data from sensor-equipped gutters to improve their performance and reduce the number of interventions.

Although drains are designed to collect rainwater, they also collect waste abandoned in the streets, which causes operational problems and pollution. Drains clogged by waste can no longer fulfil their primary purpose, and there is an ecological impact as waste accumulated in the drains transfers into the natural environment during rainfall.

To address these issues, GreenCityZen is providing the HummBox platform for the continuous monitoring of stormwater drains in sewerage networks. The application detects waste levels and can therefore decarbonise operation and cleaning of storm drains, as it is no longer necessary to travel to check if they are full.

The start-up called on Sigfox in France to collect the data sent back by the sensors placed in drains in a real-time, simple and sustainable way.

Self-powered sensors connect directly to the internet via the Sigfox network, and each drain is fully described into the application, including size, shape, brand, images, instrumentation status, filling rate and cleaning status.

Before this collaboration began, the city of Marseille carried out 50,000 inspection visits per year, only to clean half of the drains, while others lay empty.

Deploying IoT has transformed Seramm operators’ jobs by providing better data on the drains across the city and therefore immediate visibility of those requiring maintenance, as well as a better insight into the type of maintenance required without needing an initial site visit. In addition, the data collected provide useful statistics to the sanitation department and ultimately improves its performance.

“The IoT, the latest technology in the digital transformation of our economies, has had a considerable impact,” said Alexandre Boudonne, director of operations at GreenCityZen. “At GreenCityZen we see it as an opportunity for the environment and, with the support of Sigfox, we have been able to implement new use cases to improve the performance of the Seramm while helping to preserve our planet.”

By September 2021, in Marseille, 2000 drains were already equipped with HummBox and connected to the Sigfox network. Another 3000 should follow by 2022.

“Sigfox’s mission is to digitise the physical world while committing to harnessing and delivering the benefits of IoT in ways that sustain and respect our environment,” said Patrick Cason, general manager of Sigfox. “This collaboration with GreenCityZen is particularly well suited to this mission and allows us to support a high-potential made-in-France start-up.”

Sigfox was founded in 2010 and is headquartered in Labège, France, with offices in Boston, Dallas, Dubai, Madrid, Paris, Sao Paulo, Singapore and Tokyo.

GreenCityZen was founded in 2015 and has been awarded a Greentech label by the French Ministry of the Environment.