Delivering Mission Critical Connectivity to Monitor Styrian Rivers

Mission critical connectivity helps Graz, Austria protect itself - and share lifesaving insights beyond its borders

Rivers are powerful living organisms, inspiring poets, painters, and musicians for centuries – but also unleashing an unpredictable power that often leaves destruction in their wake. When you live alongside a mighty river it’s important to have as much information as possible in order to monitor and predict the river’s next move. This case shows how connectivity from Tele2 IoT has allowed Graz, Austria to not just protect its own region, but also share lifesaving insights beyond its own borders.

Graz is the capital of the Styria region, standing hundreds of meters above sea level and known as the green heart of Austria. The river Mur – a tributary to the Danube river – flows through the center of Graz and is filled by melting snows that flow down from the mountains to the west, as well as by rainfall, which can sometimes reach 150 to 180 mm in just a few days. Styria, along with other parts of inland Europe, is prone to flooding four to six times a year, with both loss of life and widespread damage. On average the Styrian government records annual economic losses of several million Euros due to floods and heavy rainfalls.

The six field engineers and eight scientists who make up the superhero team of hydrographers in the center of Graz have, with the help of Tele2 IoT, been monitoring the floods by measuring ground water levels and thus predicting the flood waters. They do this by collecting data from precipitation and water level stations that are placed at varying levels of up to 1800 meters throughout the region.

The stations automatically transmit data on conditions to the local server, and the data is then analysed and crunched. While the precipitation data is automatically sent to the central meteorological institute in Vienna, the team of scientists also prepares reports for local civil authorities, as well as for colleagues in neighbouring countries such as Hungary, Croatia, and Slovenia, predicting the rising waters levels for the next 4 days. This cross-border cooperation allows everyone to better predict and react to the annual floods.

“As you can understand, reliable communication is absolutely critical for this purpose,” says Hans Jörg Holzer, Hydrographer at the Department of Water Management in Styria. “And while a dedicated radio transmission is working as a secondary way of communication, the stations mostly rely on cellular connectivity.

“Before working with Tele2 IoT we worked with different local operators, which meant every month we had to manage a bunch of different contracts,” explains Hans Jörg. “Moreover, since we were relying on only one operator’s network when stations would sustain damage critical information would stop flowing just when it was needed most, like what happened during the 2012 Danube flood.

“Tele2 IoT made things easy: first setting up a test environment and then giving us a single platform, 2CONTROL, from which to manage our connectivity. Even more importantly, Tele2 IoT offers local roaming solutions, so even if the mast of one or more operators sustains damage during flooding and is no longer operational, there is another system ready to act as a backup.”

This makes the scientists happy because the data is consistent and will continue to be so. The locals are happy because early predictions and warnings allow them to plan ahead and coordinate with local officials as well as their cross-border neighbours. And Tele2 IoT is proud of working with the scientists and field engineers in Graz to create a smarter world.

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