Watering pilot with Element.IO

Pilot in Saint-Quentin


Optimising water use to increase efficiency and reduce wastage.

Saint-Quentin’s challenge consists of exploring ways to optimize watering of green spaces, like parks and sport fields.

Alexandre Chaffotte, innovation manager of the city of Saint-Quentin, explains the context:

“My colleague Stéphane is responsible for the green spaces of the city of Saint-Quentin. His concern is to optimize the water consumption on sport fields and at the same time to minimize the necessary interventions of its staff.”

Data to improve monitoring of green spaces

At the moment public spaces are watered based on the local knowledge, daily routines and intuition of the staff members. With factual data, like the soil humidity, water penetration level, temperature, wind direction and force, local weather forecasts and water consumption this process and the monitoring can be improved. But there is more contextual data that needs to be taken into account, primarily the usage of the space – watering a sports field during a game is not desirable! – and the mowing schedule of the robot mower. And of course this data needs to be presented in an easily accessible dashboard. 

But to really optimize the processes of this city service, a decision support system is needed that takes into consideration all available data to indicate time slots for watering, and to water it automatically without labour intensive interventions. To do that, the city needs a solution that is interoperable with its existing infrastructure of the irrigation system and mowing robot.

Interoperability is the key  in helping Stéphane to reap the full benefits of a water management solution by facilitating his daily management, reducing time spent to monitor sport fields and optimizing their water consumption.

Element IO takes up the challenge

The challenge is being tackled by Element IO, a young innovative company from Saint-Quentin. Element IO is  providing an integrated solution based on interoperable devices (sensors and valve controllers) and open data mashup to deliver to the employees of the green space department of Saint-Quentin a monitoring application of their automated or traditional watering systems.

By design, Element IO offers the possibility to its customers to set up simple mashup rules to combine available sources of information, in this case open data about geographic locations, what the spaces are used for, utilisation calendars and weather station data, to the information generated by the Element IO devices installed on the managed green fields.

Sensors collect data on soil and air conditions

The first set of Element IO devices – the sensors – publish information about the soil and air conditions (humidity, air pressure, sunshine) as open data without being intrusive nor stressful for the grass (or humans!). These data are aggregated through the Element IO platform in order to provide decision making tools. The appropriate quantity of water and a time slot are sent to the second set of Element IO devices – the watering controllers – to trigger the watering at the right moment in the right quantity and on the right spot (12 sensors and actuators per football field).

Alexander explains: “We have to make sure that the solution developed by Element IO is interoperable with existing infrastructure used by Stéphane, so its vital the project uses standard data models and protocols in order to be affordable and sustainable.”

This is where SCIFI partner Faubourg Numérique has been involved, not only as a business facilitator but also as a technology services provider: to help the City of Saint-Quentin and Element IO to easily and rapidly address interoperability and scalability challenges, namely by integrating the OASC Minimum Interoperability Mechanisms around the Context Broker CEF building block and a FIWARE IoT backend architecture.

An important part of the technical tasks has been the selection, adaptation and integration of the data models to virtualize the physical entities and their dynamic relationships based on existing and harmonized data models.

Some key aspects of this are:

  • Breakthrough in hardware in order to have a solution not harmful for the grass that allows Element IO to develop a wireless solution for buried sensors offering a good compromise in term of autonomy;
  • Using a standard data model from Fiware community to manage the watering system. The project also could be able to make some contributions to Fiware communities by integrating model used in farming.
  • Developing thanks to the contribution of Faubourg Numérique, Orange in addition to Element IO a integrated approach for the management of sport fields by making good progress in connecting together various silo solutions (mowing robot, irrigation system, intelligent recommendation system).