Created by Borja Sanz Llorente – Hidroconta


When we reach the phase of considering how to deal with our proposed remote reading projects, it means we have already analyzed the advantages of remote water consumption reading. Based on experience, the goal of this article is to present all the aspects to consider when undertaking a remote water consumption reading project.

There are many benefits that remote reading provides. Among them, not only is it important to know the readings of our meter park at all times, but also to analyze and extract much more information from these data for management purposes. This includes consumption analysis, consumption patterns, information to improve service quality for citizens and end users, alerts for various anomalies such as leaks, information for preventive and predictive maintenance of our meter park, and more.…


However, the digitization of consumption has recently gained significant value due to recent events. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that remote reading is a very useful tool to avoid personnel travel and minimize health risks, reducing daily street contact. Therefore, the demand for these tools is increasing and accelerating more than initially anticipated in the water metering market.

Another aspect boosting the demand for remote reading is the extreme weather conditions experienced in recent seasons, which are expected to become more frequent. For example, the famous recent storm Filomena, which blanketed Spain in snow, made any kind of operations impossible for several weeks. In this context, it has been proven that remote reading projects can function perfectly under 40 cm of snow on ground-level manholes, with the system responding extraordinarily well.

These tools also provide information on lifestyle habits, such as the status of dependent individuals, consumption trends observed during lockdown periods, and indications of presence and health status. For instance, if a subscriber’s water consumption follows or deviates from their usual pattern, it can indicate exceptional situations within a household.

Remote reading projects and their execution depend on many factors, which each user and project designer must study and choose according to their needs.
Today, many technologies meet these needs, each with its peculiarities, advantages, and disadvantages, depending on the final user’s or manager’s criteria, project scope, etc.

Aspects to consider

Below are certain aspects to consider when tackling a remote domestic water consumption reading project:

  • Terrain topography: This is vital for implementing different elements of the communication network, such as concentrators, receivers, microstations, and other elements of the fixed network. This will also give us a significant magnitude of the deployment and help decide whether to use our fixed network or one supported by an operator.
  • Warer meters with integrated or separate communications modules: Water meters can have integrated communications compactly within the device, or they can be separate. The latter can sometimes be advantageous for improving reading reception by removing the communications module from the manhole. The compact option is easier to install but can be more costly to maintain, as the compact hardware is always more expensive than separate modules. The separate option is often used for larger-caliber meters where costs can be higher. This choice depends on the user’s preferences and their meter park.


  • Equipment location: It’s important to study the type of the enclosures. They can be on the ground, wall-mounted, or in meter battery cabinets, where the latter option can significantly reduce communication costs by concentrating the battery.


  • Data quantity to manage: Depending on the IoT technologies available, it is important to evaluate the amount and dimension of the data to be transmitted and the communication frequency. Decide if you want a standard communication profile with 24 hourly records per day or if you need something different. Determine if bidirectional communication is necessary to configure devices remotely or if NFC tools are sufficient for maintenance. Each IoT communication type, like NBIoT, LoRaWAN, or Sigfox, has different characteristics to consider.



  • Device autonomy: This ties into the data frequency mentioned earlier, affecting device autonomy. The important thing is to comply with the latest Ministerial Order ICT/155/2020, regarding water meters, their useful life, and possible extensions. We must demand and recommend devices and communication profiles with a useful life of 15 years.
  • Operator or own network: The decision between these options depends on how we want to handle the initial investment and our maintenance capacity. If we want to avoid maintaining the communication network and not opt for our own network with initial expenditure, we can contract the network through an operator. This is possible with NBIoT, Sigfox, and LoRaWAN options, ensuring sufficient and total coverage for the project at any time. Alternatively, we can manage our own fixed network, like a LoRaWAN network, as another asset of our service, allowing for greater autonomy in maintenance. This depends on the manager’s philosophy, as each option has its advantages and disadvantages based on personal service perceptions, dimensions, and types.
  • Digitizing high consumption, sectorization, and water balances: In remote reading projects, it is important to consider concepts like sectorization and water balances. We should use this infrastructure to control main meters or sector injection points, allowing for subsequent water balances with recorded household or subscriber consumptions to detect differences and control network performance in each analyzed sector.
  • Data integration into platforms: This aspect relates to the path data takes. Device data can communicate with the manufacturer’s platform and then via API Rest link with the market platforms that the client’s manager might have. Alternatively, data can go directly with the corresponding decoding of each meter. This is very specific to each manager and how they want to receive and process data. Today, platform interoperability is the most common way to coexist data easily without tying customers down. This leads to transparency in data processing as we face the Big Data world.
  • Management platform and end-user app: Analyze the data management platform’s compatibility with the data extracted from each meter. Decide if you will use the meter manufacturer’s platform and limit yourself to one manufacturer or integrate data from any market device into your platform. This relates to the previous point and emphasizes the utility of remote reading to provide information to users or subscribers for individual consumption control and environmental awareness.


  • Data in the cloud or local server: Decide where you want to store the data, on the client’s local servers or in the cloud. This is another personal decision for each manager, weighing the advantages and disadvantages of each approach.
  • Project mode via service or initial total investment: Financing a remote reading project can follow two general scenarios. The first is to tackle the project by directly investing in the infrastructure. The second option is to exclude any initial expenditure by approaching the project as a service contract for “x” years, with a monthly fee per meter that includes the meter, communications, management platform, and end-user app. Mixed models also exist, where part of the initial investment is anticipated to reduce the monthly fee.

These aspects have been shaped by our experience in various projects, and they need to be further detailed and customized “Ad Hoc” for each project.

Remote reading is here to stay, and factors like the pandemic and climate change are accelerating this digitization mode.