Opportunities to improve the immission-oriented management of surface waters through high spatial resolution environmental monitoring

The ever-increasing implementation of the Internet of Things (IoT) promotes the development of various possible applications in industry, healthcare, agriculture and environmental monitoring. They are based on the conception of extensive digitally networked infrastructures. The development is in line with the "Smart Cities" in which the environment is included as part of data communication within urban structures. In such systems, infrastructure-relevant nodes can be monitored via sensors, which collect and store data or states as part of a network. This information is then available for analysis or prior quality assurance and for further use at other nodes in the network (e.g. for a controller).
One component of modern urban design – also within the framework of Smart Cities – is the development and management of water bodies. Blue-green infrastructures are intended to help adapt to climate impacts (urban climate, extreme precipitation events, droughts). In the context of integral planning in water management, however, the bringing together of ecological and economic aspects often poses problems for local actors in decision-making, definition of measures and development of long-term strategies. Small-scale information could serve to improve the understanding of water bodies, their dynamics and the interaction with the environment. In this way, management issues could be specified more precisely or strategies and priorities answered. A control of technical systems in operation could be targeted.

With cheap, battery-operated sensors and an integration into LoRaWAN (a network specification of the IoT), their contribution possibilities for an immission-oriented management of surface waters are to be questioned. Initial experiences have shown that such sensors can be used easily and flexibly. These technologies are correspondingly attractive for use in companies. For example, no external power supply or existing line network is required for data transmission. Each transmission takes place with small (a few bytes), end-to-end encrypted information (data) on broadband frequencies and is characterized by its large range of up to several kilometers. In pure battery operation , the sensors (provided there is no contact with the medium) can be operated maintenance-free for more than a year. The low procurement costs of the technology also allow a cost-effective replacement if necessary. All in all, this enables a new form of environmental monitoring by setting up a low-threshold, adaptable and high-resolution measuring network for recording the status of water bodies. In a later step, the measurement data from the installations can serve as a basis for the further development of various tools in water management.


  • PhD student: Benjamin Freudenberg
  • Supervisor: Prof. Dr.-Ing. André Niemann (UDE, Wasserbau und Wasserwirtschaft)
  • Supervisor: Dr. Mario Sommerhäuser (Emschergenossenschaft und Lippeverband)
  • Mentor: Dr.-Ing. Alexander Hartung (Emschergenossenschaft und Lippeverband)