NB-IoT proof of concept for smart meters in Munich Airport shows promise

The solution aims to increase the possibilities for sensors and combat difficulties in implementing smart metering in the airport.
Published: Thu 30 Aug 2018

Previously, Munich Airport airport has struggled with poor wireless signals in buildings and underground, which has created difficulty for to make the airport smarter with sensors and other devices

Due to this, replacing analogue and manual meter readings to move towards smart metering has been near-impossible.

Searching for a solution, Munich Airport has turned to the trio of solutions providers to see if the narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) can solve its biggest pain points and open up new realms of possibility.

Huawei, Telefónica Germany, and Internet of Things (IoT) provider Q-loud have jointly launched a smart meter proof of concept (POC) based on NB-IoT for Munich Airport. NB-IoT provides low power wide area network connectivity for an internet of things.

Smart technology meets analogue readings

The POC, developed by Huawei and Telefónica Germany, will utilise the EnergyCam smart camera technology from Q-loud to digitise analogue meter readings.

These bolt-on cameras have the capability to record meter readings from traditional roller meters, interpret images and deliver readings in digital form through NB-IoT on the Telefónica network, combining new digital capabilities with the physical assets.

This in itself can be difficult to implement, as it blends the traditional roles of two separate departments. Johann Götz, responsible for software and infrastructure development at Munich Airport, stated: "One important requirement for the current ongoing digital development of the airport has already been established: the IT department and technology department need to join efforts if the physical world on premises is to be connected to the Internet and become part of the Internet of Things."

Following transfer, the data will arrive at Huawei’s OceanConnect IoT platform, where the airport’s IT department can access and analyse it in a more streamlined way.

Eliminating connectivity pain points with NB-IoT

Munich Airport, along with many organisations of the sort, naturally have concerns when implementing new infrastructures. For instance, a key pain point is their size - the total area of the airport is 1,575ha.

Götz explains the aim of the project as increasing efficiency and enabling new services, explaining: "We are responsible for numerous electricity meters, based in the buildings on our premises and in properties in a 10km radius from the airport. These need to be read at least once a year, and many need to be read monthly. It's a lot of work, and because electricity consumption cannot be recorded in real-time, we cannot quickly intervene if there are any unforeseen changes."

Additionally, and on a more concerning note to project developers, these infrastructures should not disrupt any existing systems - for instance, air traffic control systems.

By moving to use NB-IoT, Munich Airport hopes to explore opportunities for further sensor and device installation for a variety of applications and act as an example for the future opportunities of smart cities.

"Through digitisation, we've experienced dramatic changes in almost all departments. We're proud that Munich Airport has introduced a new technology like NB-IoT," says Götz, who avidly believes that technologies such as this can drive digitalisation, but also assist in the journey towards smart cities.