M2M Runs Deep

9/21/2012

As both developers and users get more innovative, there seems to be no limit to the places M2M (machine-to-machine) technology can reach. One company has even developed an M2M solution that is going underground to monitor our nation’s most precious resource.

Using modules from Telit Wireless Solutions, www.telit.com, Schlumberger Water Services (SWS), www.swstechnology.com, is monitoring groundwater levels for cities, water boards, and mining applications worldwide. By installing groundwater-monitoring devices in wells, the Houston, Texas-based company can provide municipalities and water boards with realtime status regarding water depletion or the potential for flooding, salinization, and pollution.

Obtaining groundwater data wirelessly means personnel no longer have to physically visit wells to regularly record measurements—a huge benefit since wells are often located in inhospitable places that can be dangerous to visit or in cities where wells are not easily accessible. Now, groundwater levels can be monitored in realtime remotely from a PC or mobile device.


SWS’s solution is called the Diver-NETZ, a complete wireless system that combines M2M modules with SWS water monitoring devices. A SWS DXT radio device gathers data from a groundwater datalogger located inside a well and then sends that data wirelessly to a portable Diver-Gate gateway device. The gateway then sends the data via Bluetooth connection to a smartphone or PC. Downloaded data can be automatically sent to the office via the cellular network, where it can be analyzed and interpreted using desktop software.

To address different customer needs, SWS and Telit developed both a mobile solution for smartphones or field PCs and a stationary solution.

In the mobile solution, the Diver-DXT, equipped with a gateway using Telit’s ZE60 low-power module, transmits groundwater data via radio frequencies to the Diver-Gate (M) mobile device. The Diver-Gate(M) uses Bluetooth technology to transmit the data to a smartphone, where users can either forward the relevant data to an SWS server or work directly on-site.

For the stationary or fixed network solution, several Diver-DXT devices transmit the data to a central, stationary Schlumberger Diver-Gate(S) device. The cellular Diver-Gate(S) device is equipped with a gateway solution, including the ZE60 and a Telit GC864-Quad V2 module, to transmit the data via GSM/GPRS to a SWS server.

According to Peter Westerhuis, general manager at SWS, the short-range modules eliminated the need for the Diver-DXT device to be certified by a service provider, while also allowing for free data transmission, which kept customer prices low. “Therefore, we decided to realize our solution with a combination of license-free frequencies and GSM/GPRS,” Westerhuis says.

Currently, data from the SWS wireless groundwater monitoring systems are being used by several municipalities and water boards in the Netherlands to reduce risks from flooding, as well as for long-term planning and development. The system is also being used in pilot projects to monitor the effects of treated waste/sewage water injected into an aquifer, while mining companies in Florida and Chile are wirelessly monitoring groundwater supplies required for extraction.

In addition, the M2M solution has the ability to detect salinity levels, which rise as drinkable water is depleted, and temperature, which can act as an alert to various pollutants if it rises. “With the increasing human population and the effects of climate change, regular and reliable measuring and monitoring of groundwater levels is becoming even more significant than before,” Westerhuis says.

While this is yet another example of the unlimited potentials of M2M, in this case, the benefits go even deeper. Instead of providing mere efficiencies, the solution could, in fact, benefit society as a whole.





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