Marseille connects 5,000 storm drains to Sigfox to guard against flooding, pollution
Local smart-city IoT startup GreenCityZen is to connect up to 5,000 downpipes in the urban drainage network in the city of Marseille, in France, with Sigfox-based low-power IoT sensors. The downpipes, or ‘downspouts’, carry rainwater into the city’s river network. The sensors are being attached to monitor the collection of waste, abandoned on the public highway, in the city’s drainage system, and provide a warning system about potential flood risks.
GreenCityZen has a contract with the Marseille Métropole sanitation department (Seramm). The firm has stacked up a series of IoT monitoring contracts with water companies including SUEZ, Veolia, and SAUR, and with local authorities in Lyon, Marseille, Paris, and Cahors in France. It is also working in Florence, in Italy. It has also been commended by the French Ministry of the Environment (with a ‘Green Greentech label’).
In Marseille, the local Sigfox network will carry signals from the IoT sensors in the city’s storm drains and gutters about potential clogging and blockages, enabling Seramm to improve their performance and reduce its interventions. It noted the environmental impact of blocked drains, in terms of operational problems, leading to flooring, and also in terms of contamination as pollutants from waste transfer into the natural environment during rainfall.
GreenCityZen’s platform, called the HummBox, offers continuous monitoring of stormwater drains in sewerage networks, it said. The application detects waste levels, and affords operational and environmental efficiencies to local authorities and water companies, which are no longer required to travel to determine if storm drains are full. A press note said Marseille has carried out 50,000 inspection visits (over the course of an unspecified time period) prior to this new contract, “only to clean 50 percent of the drains,” it said, “while others lay empty”.
By the end of September, GreenCityZen had connected 2,000 drains with Sigfox sensors to the HummBox platform; another 3,000 should follow by 2022, it said. The Sigfox / HummBox IoT sensors are “self-powered”, according to the company. A statement said: “Each drain is logged in advance within the application where details are recorded, including: a description, images, the condition of the instrumentation, its fill rate and any necessary interventions.”
GreenCityZen said: “These intelligent solutions should soon be rolled out nationally and then exported internationally.” It has a deal with SUEZ to install “other types of sensors” in vacuum sewer networks, in order to monitor the frequency of valve opening and report any problems to the operator. It said Sigfox “allows the sensors to communicate, even though they are sometimes buried or under a cast iron plate”.
Alexandre Boudonne, director of operations at GreenCityZen, said: “The IoT, the latest technology in the digital transformation of our economies, has had a considerable impact. 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.”
Patrick Cason, chief executive of Sigfox in France, said: “Sigfox’s mission is to digitize the physical world while committing to harnessing and delivering the benefits of IoT in ways that sustain and respect our environment. This collaboration with GreenCityZen is particularly well suited to this mission and allows us to support a high-potential ‘made in France’ startup.”