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What is the heat and drought situation in Flanders? That’s the question the University of Antwerp’s CurieuzeNeuzen project is trying to answer. Orange is supporting the environmental research project with its smart technology.
Data loggers provided by the University of Antwerp (UA) have been placed in 5,000 gardens and parks until October. They use sensors to measure the soil temperature and humidity. The researchers needed a reliable technology partner to capture, combine and monitor the data in real time on a large scale, so Orange joined the project with its brand-new NB-IoT network (Narrowband Internet of Things). “The researchers initially had to read the data with a USB adapter on site, but we found a way to make the data loggers ‘smart’ and connect them all,” says Michaël Peeters, Director of Innovation at Orange Belgium.
“This was the perfect opportunity to deploy our NB-IoT network.”
“We worked with the data loggers’ development company to choose a dual-mode module suitable for both NB-IoT and LTE-M (4G). We also looked at the battery, as it is an essential condition for the sensors’ longevity. It was the perfect opportunity for us to deploy and test our NB-IoT network in combination with our enhanced connectivity Live Objects platform. Our biggest challenges were to make the data loggers ‘smart’ without changing the form factor too much, and to keep the power consumption as low as possible. The sent data also had to be limited in size, which we managed to do quite well.
“In addition to the daily measurement results, the project gives Orange interesting information about the behaviour of such a large number of NB-IoT sensors on the network. The project’s duration and equal geographical spread across Flanders are particularly interesting parameters in that regard. The interaction between the sensors and the network is also very interesting for our engineers to analyse,” Peeters adds.
“It was a challenge to limit the size of the sent data.”
Each data logger currently has four sensors: three temperature sensors and one humidity sensor. “The data logger reads and stores these levels every 15 minutes. The data logger connects to our network to transmit the stored data in binary form once a day so that the data can be sent securely and reliably to the Live Objects platform. The University of Antwerp can retrieve the data there to display it on each participant’s personal dashboard. Once the data has been transmitted, the NB-IoT module goes back into sleep mode. This is the first time the technology has allowed us to use affordable sensors on a large scale and carry out measurements in real time,” Peeters says.
“This technology allows large-scale, real-time measurements.”
About the CurieuzeNeuzen project
How hot or dry is it in Flemish gardens, parks and playgrounds? That’s the question the major scientific citizens garden survey CurieuzeNeuzen in de Tuin aims to answer. The initiative came from UA in collaboration with a range of partners including Orange, which handles the technology. Between April and October 2021, 5,000 curious citizens are placing a data logger in their garden. These intelligent measuring devices monitor the soil’s temperature and humidity.
The data loggers perform measurements in a lot of different places at the same time. This means a major breakthrough in the field of environmental research. The researchers can now use the data immediately to check its quality and monitor heat and drought live in Flanders. The results of the various measuring devices are marked as dots on a map in order to determine a heat and drought index for the region. A statistical computer model can then be used to find out why it is cool and dry in one garden and hot and humid in another during a particular period. Another project objective is to generate support for the protection of our environment and climate.