Design and development of a satellite based water resources monitoring system

Mafukidze, Harry ; Wolhuter, Riian (2014-12)

Please cite as follows:

Mafukidze, H. & Wolhuter, R. 2014. Design and development of a satellite based water resources monitoring system, in Proceedings of the First International Conference on the use of Mobile Informations and Communication Technology (ICT) in Africa UMICTA 2014, 9-10 December 2014, STIAS Conference Centre, Stellenbosch: Stellenbosch University, Department of Electrical & Electronic Engineering, South Africa, ISBN: 978-0-7972-1533-7.

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The Faculty of Forestry and Woodscience at Stellenbosch University has a requirement to monitor and record water resources and environmental data at remote sites, not within reach of any mobile services. The current solution consists of a standalone data logger based monitoring system. This system, however, is not ideal as it does not provide data in real time and has high costs and other problems servicing the particular sites. This paper presents an alternative satellite based WSN (Wireless Sensor Network) solution to this problem. The system described in this paper comprises a WSN with a three-part framework. The first part consists of sensor nodes monitoring rainfall, air temperature, air humidity, ambient light, wind speed, wind direction, soil temperature and soil moisture. Communication from these nodes to the central gateway is based in the wireless ISM band. The second part contains an Iridium satellite communications module, a gateway with a Linux based SBC (Single Board Computer) for collecting, storing and sending data from sensor nodes and forwarding such data via the SBD (Short Burst Data) satellite messaging service. The third part consists of the MS (Master Station), which is used for displaying sensory and site information. The system is solar powered and measurements indicate that the system meets an overall standby time of at least three days, as stated in the project requirements. It has been tested continuously in an actual deployment situation and is performing well. This new satellite based monitoring system is certainly an improvement and a reliable alternative to the one used up to now.

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