To develop the most efficient data measurement, collection and relay system, it is important to consider your requirements before selecting one. To start, assess how remote your monitoring stations are…it is an urban network or a network having remote stations in mountainous or desert regions. For perspective, think about if your cell phone has signal or not. Also, consider if your network is mixed; where some stations are urban, and others are remote.
Next, assess what the data will be used for and how critical the data is. For example, will the transmitted data be used for flood forecasting, emergency management and response, or long-term trends and analysis.
It is also an imperative to consider who will consume the environmental data you collect. Will it be just your organization or will third parties? Will co-operators or regulators be consuming the generated data? Along these lines, identify the infrastructure you have in place today to receive the data or what infrastructure you may need to build-up to collect and disseminate time series data.
The three main telemetry options are Geostationary Satellite, Cellular Mobile Networks and Iridium Satellite.
All over the world, many public agencies play key roles in water resource monitoring, from managing the quality and availability of water for public consumption to predicting water-related events that will affect the public, such as flooding. Typically, one of the biggest challenges with remote locations is transmitting the acquired data from the water being monitored to a back-office database in a reliable and timely manner. For remote applications that do not require real-time data communication, using equipment that transmits data via these geostationary satellite systems at predefined cyclic one-hour intervals is ideal to meet the needs of the water resource managers.
Iridium telemetry satellite technology uses a network of 66 active low-orbiting satellites managed by Iridium Communications to provide global communication services reliably with low latency. The fee-based service is well situated for underserved or remote locations as long as there is a clear view of the sky. A distinct advantage of Iridium satellites is that this technology can provide two-way communication between a remote station and a back office or server with redundant mesh satellite communication architecture to ensure quality of service.
In addition, the small footprint of the modules along with their low power consumption, make this a viable option when the application has a lower volume of data but has a requirement for higher data availability. Typically, the delivery of a message occurs in less than 20 seconds with message delivery confirmation.
Cellular Mobile Networks
Environmental sensor and data logger manufactures have kept pace with recent trends to offer integrated hardware and software application solutions where the user only needs a data plan, SIM card, or appropriate account with a cellular provider to get data from the field to the desktop. Different regions globally use either GSM, CDMA, or LTE digital cellular and in some countries both technologies are available. Generally speaking from a technology standpoint, the support for Internet protocol (IP) services are similar. The cellular network providers offer data plan products that target the increasing demand of M2M communications and it is common to have a third-party company offer managed services and connectivity solutions that can be more competitive than the principle cellular service provider.
Throughout the environmental water cycle, including surface water, groundwater, coastal water, and everything in between, there are water quantity and quality measurements that need to be performed and communicated at some type of regular interval. To develop the most efficient system, it is important to consider all off your available communication options before selecting one. Choosing the right telemetry method for your water monitoring application can offer many benefits including extending the life of your onsite systems and offering cost savings for both data transmission and system maintenance.