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The EVA team reinvents the Smart Marina

The goal of the SmartMarina project is to use Internet of Things technology to monitor boat mooring occupancy and water/electricity use in the of Cap d'Agde marina, one of the three largest marinas in Europe.

"Today’s marinas are tomorrow’s smart cities! "says Dr Thomas Watteyne, researcher in the EVA team at Inria-Paris. Over the last decade, marinas have transformed from sporting hotspots to floating neighborhoods. An increasing number of people live on their boat year-round, or even turn it into a vacation rental much like an apartment. This transformation means opportunities for marinas to offer new services to these new types of tenants. In partnership with Sodéal* - the company running the marina - Thomas Watteyne and his team are deploying a network of low-power wireless sensors to monitor which moorings are occupied, and make sure no electricity or fresh is unnecessarily wasted. "Throughits online portal, Sodéal is able to track the occupancy, electricity and water usage of the marina, mooring by mooring, in real time" says Dr Watteyne. IBM, a partner in the project, provides the cloud platform that stores the data and the runs analytics that bring the data to life.

Higher efficiency, lower waste

With 4,000 moorings during peak seasons, the return on investment is immediate. As demand increases, efficient management of the moorings is essential, especially as expanding is not an option. Having a real-time view of the occupancy allows Sodéal to offer an even better service to the many boats sailing in and out of the marina on a given day. And as in any traditional city, there is a great opportunity to avoid wasting energy."Today, it sometimes happens that boat owners forget to switch off the heater in their boat when leaving for weeks at a time.Such wasted energy - and an annual electricity bill for the Sodéal of tens of thousands of Euros - can easily be avoided ”, adds Dr Watteyne. All of this without needing to replace a single piece of equipment! The small wireless sensors allow “retrofitting”: they attach to already existing installations."That means that we won't need to lay cables or change all of the equipment for a connected version. On top of this, the peel-and-nature of the sensors allows the deployment to be done in hours, not week. This is of course an enormous advantage in terms of cost and ease of installation ", underlines Dr Watteyne.

The Inria team brings expertise on the entire chain, from the sensor to the cloud. They use the low-power wireless technology called “SmartMesh”, provided by project partner Analog Devices."The performance of the SmartMesh technology is best-in-class, and ideal for this application ", says Dr Watteyne, “the end-to-end reliability we measure exceeds 99.999%, and the power consumption is so low that a sensor can operate for over ten years on a pair of AA batteries!”. Inria works with Analog Device on the standardization of the technology at the IETF – the standardization body beyind most of today’s Internet – through the 6TiSCH working group, co-lead by Dr Watteyne.

Snow, peaches… and now boats

Even though this is their first deployment in France, the EVA team is not new to this. The have deployed and are operating networks in four continents, through several large-scale projects.

One example is “SnowHow”, a collaboration with the University of California at Berkeley to monitor the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada. Together with Berkeley professor Steven Glaser, they are operating 18 networks (945 sensors total!) deployed across the mountain range. The networks generate real-time snow height measurements which hydrologists use to better understand draught in California. Through a grant from the prestigious France-Berkeley-Fund, students from Prof. Glaser’s team actively participate in the SmartMarina project.

Another example is the “Save the Peaches” system, a collaboration with several teams in Chile and Argentina, which predicts frost events in peach orchards. In the Mendoza region in Western Argentina alone, 85% of the peach production was lost in 2013 to frost events. The team has installed a network of temperature and humidity sensors across a peach orchard near Mendoza, which reports the sensor data to servers in Paris. From there, machine learning technique are used to predict frost events. “Receiving thesensor data at our control room in Paris seconds after it was measured half-way across the globe is the true power of the IoT! ” explains Dr Watteyne.

At the Cap d’Adge, the team is working to install sensors on two pontoons (approximately 100 boats) by the summer."This will enable us to monitor moorings for both permanent residents and temporary visitor to the marina ". Lessons learnt from this first set of experiments will be use to continuously improve the system, and eventually roll out the solution across the entire facility, making Cap d'Agde one of the premiere connected marinas in the world.

The partners do not intend to stop there. Their next goal is to offer new innovative services for the marina's residents, including connected fire or break-in alarm systems."The marina suffers from one fire every two years on average, and if it’s not detected quickly, it can quickly propagate to other boats", says Thomas Watteyne. Smart Marina also contributes to the environment. "Over time, we plan to develop modules that boaters take on their day trips, and which logs water quality. This will allow us to map pollution around the marina, in pseudo real-time".An example of connectivity rhyming with progress...

*Semi-public company that manages the tourism investments of the town.

Keywords: Equipe-projet Eva SmartMarina Port connecté Inria de Paris Réseaux Capteurs