Enter the friendzone

Waterlink: smart water management

Water-link is the integral water company for Antwerp and 7 regions surrounding it. It’s the biggest water producer in Flanders, Belgium and serves citizens,

The client

Water-link is the integral water company for Antwerp and 7 regions surrounding it. It’s the biggest water producer in Flanders, Belgium and serves citizens, industry and other water companies. It provides clean drinking water for its 642.000 daily users. In addition to drinking water it is also responsible for the the sewer-systems of more than 10 cities. Together with their 425 employees that stand for loyalty, sustainability and innovation.

ambient-banner-waterlink-spikes-d0004

The match

With our expertise in IoT and inhouse product development team of engineers, designers, firmware developers, … we could rapidly built and test prototypes, getting our hands dirty while proving the power of the technology for the client.

The challenge

Water-link wanted to gain deep insights into how their pipeline network was functioning and performing. However, the company lacked tools that could intelligently and automatically gather data on what was happening inside their pipes.

ambient-banner-waterlink-sewer-hole-d0004
ambient-landscape-waterlink-spikes-d0004

The solution

We built a retrofit solution that could parasitize off the 28.000 existing underground hydrants, spread over the city of Antwerp. By adding a sensor to 5000 of those hydrants, pressure fluctuations could be monitored in detail and eventually managed in the future, and this throughout the whole pipeline network. In addition, leakage or theft of water could be controlled. We started by mapping out possible project risks, and set up a realistic and lean project timeline with clear goals. One of the first issues that needed to be tackled was the communication from under the street pot’s metal lid. This  influenced the transmission quality and affected the position of the antenna.


The sensor itself is installed 1 meter below street level and is connected to a communication module which sends the measured values over a low frequency network to the cloud. In order to achieve a +10 year battery life solution, we developed a set of algorithms, both on the device and cloud-based. These manage to minimise power usage drastically. The captured data is processed and visualised in an Azure environment. This setup made it easy for Water-link to establish an integration with their existing systems.

Lessons learned

This first project part gave us a clear vision on the architecture of the solution for both hardware and software. A cheap and producible sensor is within reach and will be developed during the further course of the project.

Read more