Two project partners, the Tartu Regional Energy Agency (TREA) from Estonia and the City of Ostrava, are cooperating on the implementation of new technologies as part of the Smart Cities concept, based on smart metering and data analysis.
The City of Ostrava recently gave a presentation to representatives of TREA and the City of Tartu explaining how Ostrava uses smart metering in its own utility infrastructure via the water management company OVAK (co-owned by the City), which runs and maintains the water supply and sewerage networks in Ostrava.
Thanks to OVAK, Ostrava is playing a pioneering role; it is among the first Czech cities where a smart metering system has been made available to ordinary consumers as a way of enabling users to monitor their own water consumption online.
The smart metering system was first presented to the public in 2017. Currently, more than 16.000 smart meters have been installed in Ostrava. By the end of 2024, OVAK plans to introduce the technology to all the water meters in the city (over 32.000).
The pilot installation and testing of the system were launched in 2014. Since then, a dedicated network of 33 data receivers has been created; by 2019, this network covered all the key buildings and sites owned by the City, throughout all its municipal districts.
Thanks to this network, OVAK and Ostrava have amassed extensive experience of the hardware needed for smart metering, as well as of the latest technological developments and above all the analysis of the data gathered via the system. This was of particular interest to Ostrava’s partners from TREA and the City of Tartu, who for many years have been actively working to improve their energy management, data collection, and database maintenance, site analysis, and the “Cumulocity IoT data platform” that is used to collect and analyze public data.
This was the focus of a bilateral fact-finding session held on 20 May (in the form of a video conference), where participants discussed key parameters and other crucial information about the application of smart metering technologies in Ostrava. During this “virtual study visit”, participants learned about the water supply and sewerage systems run by OVAK in Ostrava and the history of the company’s smart metering system, including essential investments and other support.
The session highlighted a range of practical information about the smart metering system: its overall concept, technical solutions, equipment specifications, the OPEX and CAPEX for the smart metering system during its development, the piloting and full implementation phases, the robustness of the system, the implementation plan, and the tools for motivating customers to adopt the smart metering system.
Smart metering offers tangible benefits to citizens, who can monitor their current water consumption online, meaning that if their consumption rises unexpectedly (e.g. due to a leak caused by a technical fault at the site), the system automatically informs the consumer via an e-mail.
The system functions by transmitting data directly from the meters; the data is then gathered (in encrypted digital form) by a network of receivers. The receivers route the data to a data storage facility using GPRS technology, and the data is then transferred via an interface to a data management system. The entire digital data chain is encrypted, and it contains no personal data that could enable individual users to be identified. The service is provided to consumers as part of their standard tariff, without any additional charge for the smart metering technology. This is a key reason why smart metering has been so warmly welcomed by consumers; indeed, many people have requested the installation of smart meters ahead of the scheduled date for the replacement of their existing meters as set out in the relevant legislation and technical standards.
Ostrava’s smart metering system forms part of a range of activities that are helping Ostrava to become a genuinely smart city, applying sophisticated modern approaches to drive real improvements in the quality of life for citizens. The system is a smart network that collects and evaluates data of relevance to the water supply network as a whole – including cases where unregistered users are illegally drawing water from the network.
Deputy Mayor Kateřina Šebestová explained: “Today, it’s hard to imagine life without smartphones and other modern technologies. Our aim is to make the maximum possible use of these technologies to improve life for Ostrava’s citizens. OVAK’s smart metering system is an excellent example that can provide inspiration for other fields.”