Fast Company has an article about an Israeli water-use monitoring company, and for some reason they tie it into drones. I've read the piece twice and visited the company's website, but can for the life of me figure out why you'd use drones for this. Surely you'd use direct wireless links for this? If they're too far apart for wifi meshing, just use GPRS. The data size is tiny; it?s a perfect app for texting on cellphone networks.
Can anyone explain this?
Excerpt from the article follows:
"The word drone may conjure thoughts of sci-fi flicks, or images of attacks carried out remotely on hostile lands, or even your high-school biology teacher's voice. You certainly don't expect a drone to help save water, but that's what Arad Metering Technologies intends to do. The Israeli company's battery-operated drone is one of the novel tools it's deploying to help consumers and companies conserve H2O -- and to make money.
That such an idea would come out of Israel is no coincidence. The country is poor in water and rich in tech innovation, much of it born of constant military conflict. Israel pioneered the use of unmanned aerial vehicles after it lost many fighter jets in the 1973 war. But Arad's drones don't fight: They read data from the company's patented water-meter system to detect leakage or, in irrigation systems, drought.
The World Bank estimates that water wastage costs utilities $14 billion a year worldwide; in developing countries, 200 million more people could be served by the water lost to leaks and theft. Arad CEO Dan Winter says this is largely a consequence of how the business works in places where water is cheap or untaxed: "You train people to abuse water because they pay very little."
This broken system created an opportunity for Arad, which has deep green roots. Its parent company, the Arad Group, began making water meters in 1941, after prescient members of Kibbutz Dalia saw how the devices could help save water. Winter says his tech-centric unit seeks "to bring an added value" to both the core business and customers. Its technology can find irregularities -- a pipe failure, an unusually low flow rate, or a too-constant one that could indicate a leak -- in a few hours, rather than every 60 days as with a typical meter reading.
Arad's system is built around what looks like a standard meter. The difference is on the inside, where you'll find 3G wireless technology, a microcontroller, and 20-year batteries. Every 11 to 30 seconds, the system transmits data, which can be picked up by a drone (best for quickly covering big distances in remote areas) or by a drive-by or fixed-base reader. The data are then analyzed by computer to gauge how much water has been consumed, how much was lost, and even where tampering may have taken place. As a result, companies can save both water and man hours.?