IoT-platform for smart tree irrigation

Challenge

Since there are only fixed routes for watering trees in the city of Mönchengladbach, the actual demand for water is currently neglected. By providing information about the position and irrigation status of all trees, more efficient routes for irrigation could thus be planned using an IoT-platform developed by us.

Solution

The aim was to provide the city of Mönchengladbach with a smart tree watering method to make this process more environmentally friendly by using more efficient routes for watering. As a part of Mönchengladbach, we worked out this idea in the context of the Smart City project.

1. Potential analysis

After considering the current irrigation of the trees of the city of Mönchengladbach, we began to analyse the irrigation process and developed a concept that would make it more efficient and environmentally friendly. The potential here lies within the identification of the irrigation status of all trees in order to consequently save working time and resources.

2. Use case definition

Based on the potential analysis, we defined the use case of smart tree irrigation for the city of Mönchengladbach. Such a use case contains all possible scenarios that the IoT-platform has to fulfil.

Name

IoT-platform for smart tree irrigation in Mönchengladbach.

Brief description

The task was to make the tree irrigation of the city of Mönchengladbach smarter, more efficient and more environmentally friendly in terms of resources. This includes the development of an IoT-platform in which specifically developed sensors are integrated.

Actors

Masasana GmbH
City of Mönchengladbach
mags – Mönchengladbacher Abfall-, Grün- und Straßenbetriebe – AöR

Precondition:

Data from the city of Mönchengladbach of the location and type of trees is available. Specially developed sensor is attached to trees and connected to IoT-platform. Reference data for tree irrigation is available.

Postcondition:

IoT-platform outputs demand. Tree is irrigated based on the demand.

Process – normal scenario:

1. The sensor transmits data to the IoT-platform about the location, temperature, and conductivity of the soil.
2. LoRaWAN forwards all data to the platform.
3. The system compares received data with reference data from the database and determines that the tree needs watering.
4. The platform outputs information about the need.

Process – alternative scenario:

3.1 The system detects that the tree does not need to be irrigated.
3.1.1 Continue as in step 4

Process – error scenario:

1.1 The sensor does not transmit any data.
1.1.1 The system issues an error message.

3. Iterative model creation

After the concept development, we started with the implementation, i.e., the realization of the defined structures and process flows.
In order to obtain data about location, temperature and the conductivity of the soil at all, we started with the development of a sensor to be placed into the soil around the trees. For the transmission of the data we used LoRaWAN, because this network is characterized by its high range. This allowed us to ensure data transmission from all the trees in the city. Since we only needed small amounts of data, the limitation of the network was not a constraint. To retrieve and analyse the transmitted data, we developed an IoT-platform that can easily and clearly display the measurement values.

Fig. 2: final sensor
Fig. 1: Prototype including 3D printing engineering

The city’s data of the location and type of tree was entered into this platform and linked to the respective sensors. The QR code attached to the sensors enables the user to connect it directly to the platform when attaching it to the tree.That way, the correct data is assigned to the respective trees in the system.

Based on this data, it is possible to identify which trees should be watered and which should not. This result is generated by our in-house artificial intelligence. Through this information, routes could be planned based on demand to guarantee sustainable and healthy tree irrigation.

Fig. 3: Iot-platform

In addition, the respective tree registers are linked on the platform under the “Viersen” and “Mönchengladbach” tabs. This shows prototypically that all cadastres can be enriched with the existing sensor data. Consequently, several data points from different sources can be merged in one place. As a result, a high degree of centralization of the data is achieved.

4. Integration and result analysis

Our application makes it very easy to install the sensor and to read out the data, and enables the project to be effectively included as part of the city’s tree watering system. If needed, additional sensors can be added and integrated to the platform.

During the project, we were able to utilize and develop a wide range of technologies, software, and hardware to gently and sustainably improve the process.
Due to our agile product development, we managed to realize the smart tree irrigation from idea to final completion within one month. In addition, the project is cloud native. This means that it can be run independently of traditional server farms. Currently, this project is hosted in our MasasanaCloud. The technology behind a cloud can also be more energy- and CO₂-efficient than that behind traditional server farms.

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