Watering pilot with Element.IO

Pilot in Saint-Quentin


Optimising water use to increase efficiency and reduce wastage.


  • Project: Smart watering system
  • Location: Saint-Quentin, France, with 56,000 inhabitants
  • Challenge: How to optimise irrigation with the right amount water, at the right time and place
  • Solution: Data-based smart watering system for the city’s green spaces
  • CEF Building Block used: Context Broker



Saint-Quentin, a medium-sized city in northern France, is taking a fresh approach to improving its public services by combining Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, open data and expertise from local SMEs. The objectives are to find new ways of achieving the city’s goals in sustainable social development and in increasing accountability to citizens regarding their concerns, such as the environment and the conservation of water.

 Hence, the first co-created public service was a smart watering system to address stakeholder concerns and the city’s green spaces department’s need to modernise and optimise its operations. As in many cities, Saint-Quentin’s irrigation methods were based on intuition and procedures, rather than data on soil humidity, water penetration or temperature. The resulting smart solution, successfully tested at the Phillippe Roth sports field in Saint-Quentin, was made up of an ecosystem of various technologies, such as sensors, robot lawnmowers and sprinklers. The European Commission’s Context Broker building block integrated all devices and their data with its data consolidation and analysis capabilities.

 Context Broker helped Stéphane Siméon, responsible for Saint-Quentin’s green spaces, to optimise daily operations, reduce water consumption and minimise manual intervention by staff, all the while improving the customer experience provided to local sports associations.



 Alexandre Chaffotte, Innovation Manager of the city of Saint-Quentin, says: “The data is mostly available to improve the watering process, but the main challenge is to aggregate and analyse the data as they all come in different standards and often lack relevant context information, for example, when and where the data was recorded.” He continues, “we have to make sure that the solution is interoperable with the already existing infrastructure (sprinklers and robot lawnmowers), and that the project evaluates existing standard data models and open communication protocols (APIs). This is crucial to guarantee interoperability for the sustainable deployment of such a solution.”


THE SOLUTION: Context Broker in the IoT Booster ecosystem

 The solution was provided by Faubourg Numérique, a local SME that operates as a business facilitator and the provider of an innovative interoperability platform, called the IoT Booster. With the IoT Booster it is easy to connect to and manage the heterogeneous IoT devices installed and used on the field, such as the existing sprinklers and lawnmowers, as well as new soil sensors and valve controllers. It allows to consolidate and analyse data from sensors, and to take action with sprinklers and lawnmowers.

 Faubourg Numérique developed the IoT Booster to tackle the interoperability and scalability challenges brought by the big data nature of the project. The cornerstone of the solution is the CEF Context Broker building block, which provides the data consolidation and analysis capabilities needed to offer services based on open data mashups. The devices on the field are connected to Context Broker via the FIWARE IoT Agent, which features a lightweight text-based protocol specifically designed to enable communication between Context Broker and IoT devices. Context Broker also provides a single standard API (NGSI-LD) for smart applications to access the consolidated data for decision making.

Fig 1: High-level solution architecture with CEF Context Broker.


Faubourg Numérique also integrated the ​OASC Minimum Interoperability Mechanisms around ​the CEF Context Broker and the IoT back-end architecture. An important part of this technical task was to select, integrate and harmonise existing data models provided by organisations, such as FIWARE DM and schema.org, in order to virtualise gathered data and its dynamic relationships.

 The CEF Context Broker is fully compatible with the complementary solutions provided by FIWARE, as it is also based on FIWARE’s work. In fact, FIWARE’s Orion Context Broker is the core software component of CEF Context Broker and the reference implementation of the NGSI specifications, which are supported by the European Commission. Furthermore, Faubourg Numérique operates the local ​FIWARE iHub, providing solutions and support based on FIWARE technologies.


BENEFITS AND LEARNINGS: More efficiency on a smaller budget

 For the IoT Booster, Context Broker provides interoperability and open access to the local public service ecosystem. This allows cities to develop and integrate new, complex services faster and in an interactive way involving a variety of stakeholders, such as municipal staff, city representatives, local businesses and citizens. The Context Broker is the perfect tool for Saint-Quentin and other medium-sized cities to develop services on a small public budget for high impact on city services and end-users’ satisfaction.

 The IoT Booster smart application uses consolidated data from Context Broker to provide information for decision making. The user interface specifies which sections of the field need watering and even calculates the exact amount of water required. This ensures the right amount of water, in the right place, at the right time. To maximise the benefits of automation, the watering schedule was orchestrated with robot lawnmowers, as well as upcoming sports events and team practices.

Fig 2: IoT Booster app user interface for the use of the city’s green spaces service team.


The pilot at the Philippe Roth sports field successfully proved the value of Context Broker in achieving interoperability between IoT devices for the purpose of building holistic solution ecosystems and data-based services. Saint-Quentin plans to further continue on the project to achieve full interconnection and integration of devices for the autonomous maintenance of green spaces with the following expected benefits:


  • Operational efficiency with the time needed to manage watering cut in half
  • Remote control of operations
  • Reducing water consumption by an estimated 30%
  • Visibility and support in decision making
  • Early detection of problems, such as leaks


Furthermore, based on the Philippe Roth pilot, Saint-Quentin now knows the requirements to create other similar solutions based on solid and sustainable foundations.






For Saint-Quentin this is just the beginning of a new era. In the coming months, the learnings and technical deliverables from the watering system will be globally shared by the city of Saint-Quentin and Faubourg Numérique for the benefit of other medium-sized cities.


If you are interested in using the Context Broker for a project of your own, we would be happy to help you. The documentation and support services provided by CEF are described on our website and available to all. Visit us at Context Broker to learn more.