Birdz: Optimizing water smart meter reporting to reduce processing time from hours to minutes

About Birdz

A subsidiary of Nova Veolia, Birdz is a leader in the field of smart water metering services and other smart city solutions, such as energy and waste.

Industries: Technology
Location: France

About Sfeir

Sfeir is a community developed by over 450 talented developers, offering small and large businesses innovative and ambitious technological solutions.

Birdz implements BigQuery, Cloud Dataflow, and Cloud Storage to build a data pipeline for its smart water metering services serving over 1.5 million sensors, reducing processing times.

Google Cloud Results

  • Builds flexible and scalable data pipeline, reducing processing time, enabling the team to focus on areas of development
  • Opens new markets by increasing system resilience and capacity, supporting global growth through the Google network of data centers
  • Eliminates spending on legacy system upgrades, maintenance, and new hardware, enabling cost efficiencies

Processing time reduced from over an hour to under 4 minutes

On an industrial level, smart metering can not only help reduce costs, it can also serve as a safeguard against dangers to public health and safety. Formed in 2017 from a merger between two other subsidiaries, French company Birdz, a subsidiary of Nova Veolia, boasts 18 years of experience in smart water metering and has sold over 6 million modules. "We offer smart metering solutions that range from sensor development to monitoring, transmitting, and analyzing data," says Geoffroy Duplessis, Deputy CIO at Birdz. "We have our own sensors and IoT network and also interface with other meters and low-power networks."

"The real added value for the future lies beyond the production of IoT sensors, in putting together various managed elements of an environment. We want to provide maintenance and delivery in the best possible conditions for our clients"

Geoffroy Duplessis, Deputy CIO, Birdz

"A smart meter can be used simply to index volumes of water for easy billing. But it can also be used to detect all kinds of problems within a water supply network," explains Geoffroy. "Beyond leaks and water waste, it can detect sanitary risks, like whether stagnant water is entering the supply, or whether fire hydrants are in use. In a situation where there is a security breach, water distributors need to be informed as quickly as possible in order to keep vulnerable members of the public safe."

In order to make its reporting service effective, Birdz needs to be able to deliver data quickly and in a form that is easily accessible and readable. When it came to updating its legacy on-premises database, it decided to build a data pipeline in the cloud to improve the performance of its analytics, as well as its ability to scale up and work internationally. Working with Google Premium Partner Sfeir from proof of concept to implementation, Google Cloud Platform offered the solution.

"The real added value for the future lies beyond the production of IoT sensors, in putting together various managed elements of an environment," says Geoffroy. "We want to provide maintenance and delivery in the best possible conditions for our clients"

Migrating the data warehouse

Reducing the processing time for data gathered from an IoT network can open up new possibilities. Birdz's legacy system included a database that was no longer coping with the volumes of data required, and was costing a lot to maintain. "We realized that the money spent on the maintenance, upgrading, and licenses for our previous system was not cost effective, and that the answer was to move to the cloud," says Geoffroy. "The goal was to improve the performance of the system and reduce costs."

"Thanks to our new data pipeline based around BigQuery, we are more resilient to any potential problems that could arise in the water supply network. We can work faster and therefore do more."

Geoffroy Duplessis, Deputy CIO, Birdz

To do that, working with Sfeir, Birdz built a data pipeline inputting the sensor data into Cloud Storage before streaming into Cloud Dataflow and BigQuery. "Before, the volume of data entering and leaving the database was too big and the number of requests was too high for it to cope, which was limiting our growth," says Geoffroy. "Now, we analyze around 25TB of data a month in BigQuery without any constraints. We have 76 accounts configured feeding into the data pipeline, serving over 1.5 million sensors. Based on those exports we produce daily and weekly reports on the volume and status of the water."

"Thanks to our new data pipeline based around BigQuery, we are more resilient to any potential problems that could arise in the water supply network. We can work faster and therefore do more," says Geoffroy.

BigQuery ML: The future of supply maintenance

One of the key goals in moving to the cloud is also to develop a more DevOps mindset, in order to speed up system improvements, as well as improving internal skills. "There's a lot of work to do in terms of industrializing our system of data production, but also educating our team. Sfeir has an important role to play in this respect," says Geoffroy.

"For example, Sfeir is running a course on BigQuery ML for our data science team, so we can develop more predictive approaches to water supply maintenance," he continues. "With machine learning, we will be able to do things like predict which water meters are likely to malfunction in the coming months, which is a potentially very important use case for us."

"Working with Google Cloud Platform really opens up the global market as we will be able to deploy in data centers on the other side of the world, and easily replicate our systems. That means we can be as close to our clients as possible."

Geoffroy Duplessis, Deputy CIO, Birdz

Working closer to the client

Thanks to migrating its data warehouse into the cloud, the processing time for data exports has been reduced from hours to minutes. "Before, the processing time was an hour or more. Now, it's 3 minutes 40 seconds, and while the parameters of the reports for our customers are the same, it means we can focus more on improving our service and developing new products," says Geoffroy. "Our costs have also reduced, as we no longer have to pay for licenses or equipment maintenance for that part of our infrastructure."

"In the long term, we want to move as many of our data exports over to the cloud and, with Sfeir's help, build a robust pipeline based on automation and managed services: as well as BigQuery ML, we're looking into Kubernetes Engine, Cloud Composer, and Cloud Functions, amongst other products," says Geoffroy.

"We have two strategic areas for expansion," he explains. "One is the work we already do in sectors other than water, such as waste management and the energy management of buildings, and the other is looking beyond our large client base in France to the international market."

"Working with Google Cloud Platform really opens up the global market as we will be able to deploy in data centers on the other side of the world, and easily replicate our systems," says Geoffroy. "That means we can be as close to our clients as possible."

About Birdz

A subsidiary of Nova Veolia, Birdz is a leader in the field of smart water metering services and other smart city solutions, such as energy and waste.

Industries: Technology
Location: France

About Sfeir

Sfeir is a community developed by over 450 talented developers, offering small and large businesses innovative and ambitious technological solutions.

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