On Spitsbergen a next-gen gateway pilot makes 6 months landmark

6 months of real-time monitoring of critical infrastructure in the unforgiving Arctic climate

Longyearbyen, The world’s northernmost city, located on the remote island of Spitsbergen in the middle of the Northern Atlantic ocean. This is a place where the elements, extremely harsh environment, and polar bears does their outmost to get the best of you. And later on, well of inside, having a cup of tea in the safe haven of a local café it is easy to relate to the fact that the infrastructure providing heat, electricity, and running water are vital parts of being able to survive.

“Travelling to the far north, our guests expect pristine nature and lots of fresh air. They also want comfortable indoor temperatures and running water. Needless to say, hotel operations on Spitsbergen are not without challenges. Still, we aim to exceed expectations and doing it with a small environmental footprint.”– Stein-Ove Johannessen, General Manager, Svalbard Hotel Polfareren

It is a key part of any municipality or city to ensure basic and vital support functions such as electricity, water, heat, etc. In Longyearbyen, the permafrost means you can easily spot the above-ground pipes that crisscross the town with hot, cold, and waste water. The combination of the subzero weather and tectonic movement makes maintaining and servicing the above-ground pipelines, pumphouses and stations a full-time assignment.

Unexpected frost intrusions and other faults are frequent and critical to detect as soon as possible to both keep reliable services and avoiding damage to infrastructure and equipment. It is vital to react as soon as possible to be able to repair the issue and get the system operational again. Strategically placed sensors that monitor temperature, humidity and air quality are used to detect, locate, and alert of any deviation.

A system like this pinpoint issues in real time and alert maintenance operators to take action. Removing the need for frequent inspections and enabling detection before a fault happens.
“A network of sensors and gateways spread in key locations can make a grid to monitor the whole infrastructure, reducing the response time and minimizing down time. It’s possible that such setup can improve issue localization and limit further collateral damage, and more importantly the loss of valuable assets.” – Andre Grytbakk, NanoPower and Robert Rembowski, Svep Design Center

Despite the remote location, Longyearbyen has all the required infrastructure in place for the digital era. Svep Design Center’s rugged gateways, along with Nanopower’s extreme low-power sensors; connected to Svep Design Center’s IoT Platform was deployed this spring in a pilot setup of a cost effective, near plug-and-play system to monitor district heating in Longyearbyen.

Each gateway accompanied by three or more sensors where placed at critical points for monitoring deviations in temperature and humidity – to detect pipe leakage in the system providing heat and water at selected locations, points, and buildings in Longyearbyen. The setup has already been running for a substantial part of 2022, with virtually zero downtime, and successfully provided data and metrics to the platform for monitoring and alarms.

“I believe it is possible to improve on air quality and save energy at the same time by monitoring temperature and other parameters. Furthermore, an immediate alarm in case of a water leak on the main system is of high value. It will ensure a more reliable delivery of water and heating.” – Stein-Ove Johannessen, General Manager, Svalbard Hotell Polfareren

Looking ahead, as we move towards the polar winter, with freezing temperatures and unforgiving winds at Svalbard; the system will take get a chance to further prove itself during scenarios where it is predicted to provide the most support and functionality.

Svep Design Center together with Nanopower will expand the sensor and gateway network along with upgraded functionality and performance. The system will run during the winter period to validate the functionally of an easy set up and reliable system that provides the ability to measure, monitor and alert to minimize down time, preserve the valuable resource and in the end – sustain life.

“The adaptation of next generation IoT requires a multi-disciplinary approach from several actors. Telenor Svalbard commits with our core connectivity, and services beyond, to enable customers to solve challenges in a rapidly developing environment. By participating in this project, we are enabling monitoring of critical infrastructure that will secure a more stable supply of water and heating to the citizens of Longyearbyen.” – Einar Jenssen, Head of Technology and Innovation, Telenor Svalbard AS

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