Semi-conductor specialist Semtech has teamed up with New Zealand’s IoT Ventures to create a LoRaWan (low-power wide-area networking) protocol able to anticipate and mitigate droughts in the South Pacific region.

Designed alongside global connectivity provider Lacuna Space, the drought early warning system comprises a rainwater tank and rain monitors to analyse water consumption and rain forecasts in remote New Zealand and South Pacific Island communities.

The water monitoring system features ultra-low power, small form-factor sensors, which are solar powered and provide an in-field life of 7-10 years without intervention, according to IoT Ventures.

The Drought Early Warning System will use Semtech’s long range-frequency hopping spread spectrum (LR-FHSS) satellite connectivity to seamlessly integrate with a terrestrial network using LoRaWan, delivering a flexible solution for isolated locations.


Matt Hector-Taylor, co-founder of IoT Ventures, said: “The remote location of many Pacific Island countries makes it challenging to provide emergency water supplies during droughts, and if an island runs out of water, it may take several weeks for water to be transported.

“By combining low-cost sensors with LoRa and strong connectivity signal capabilities, the joint solution helps provide consistent access to clean drinking water for citizens of some of the most remote islands in the world, supports the United Nations Sustainability goals and reduces crisis response.”

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that as much as 50% of the water used outdoors globally is lost due to wind, evaporation and run-off caused by inefficient irrigation methods and systems. By implementing a smart water monitoring infrastructure comprised of sensors and gateways using LoRa devices and the LoRaWan standard, Semtech claimed that governments and utility providers proactively and efficiently collect data to streamline operations to manage costs and appropriately allocate resources.

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