Swedish County Gains Intelligence with IoT

Published: January 22, 2024

Jönköping is using sensors and software platform from TH1NG to manage water, sewer and other services across its 13 municipalities.

Jönköping County, which encompasses 13 municipalities in southern Sweden, is piloting LoRaWAN-based, IoT technology to manage services across its population.

Delivered and managed by Stockholm technology startup TH1NG, the IoT Open solution is providing connectivity and data intelligence related to what the company calls “the smart society.”

Founded in 2018 with offices in Sweden and Germany, TH1NG offers IoT solutions for smart cities including broadband access and IoT Platform as a Service (PaaS). Thus far it offers services in about 40 Swedish municipalities, including those in Jönköping, says Magnus Eriksson, TH1NG marketing director.

The technology works with LoRaWAN connectivity as well as 5G, NB-IOT or private networks. Its software platforms are designed to provide a large volume of historical, real-time and contextual data about conditions in buildings and public spaces including lighting, weather and water control.

Bringing Automation to an Aging Population

Jönköping County has about 367,000 residents in an 11,495 square kilometer area. It has been facing challenges around changing demographics as Sweden’s population, as with many countries, is aging, with a corresponding decrease in working age residents.

As a result, the need for services and personnel is one of the major challenges Swedish municipalities are facing, says Björn Hättström, project manager for the IoT project in Jönköping

According to the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKR), the country needs to employ 410,000 people due to demographic changes and retirements until 2031—if nothing changes. The population over 80 years old will increase by almost 50 percent, which means eldercare needs will increase demand for employees by over 30 percent.

Leveraging IoT to Gain Service Insights

In light of these challenges, municipalities are striving to find new ways and solutions to meet future needs, says Hättström. The county’s municipalities each have hired a “digitalization strategist,” responsible for the municipalities’ digitization efforts. Within the region, strategists operate a common network to collaborate on overarching digitalization issues.

In January 2021, four of the municipalities launched a two-year pilot project to examine applications such as tracking water temperature at bathing sites, water levels, snow depth, and occupancy on hiking trails and picnic areas.

A county-wide IoT platform resulted and TH1NG was awarded the contract in 2022 to provide and deliver an IoT platform to, among other things, supply other IT systems with sensor data.

Cloud-based Solution

While TH1NG offers an IoT Open platform as a Platform as a Service (PaaS), the county can operate the technology on-premises (on local servers).

In October 2023, 400-plus tests were completed and approved, and in November TH1NG became an approved supplier of the IoT platform for Jönköping County. IoT Open is now fully available for use for the 55 organizations covered by the contract.

Thus far, several hundred sensors are installed and active, with dozens of IoT projects underway in the region, says Hättström.

The phased expansion of the IoT network aims at finding sustainability benefits and applications that are in line with the smart society concept.

Weather Station Intelligence

One example is Jönköping’s weather stations deployed at twelve selected locations where freezing typically occurs first.

“Along with input from meteorological weather data, these weather stations can provide an accurate indication of whether roads need salting or plowing. This service represents significant cost savings,” says Hättström.

Recently, Jönköping Municipality has begun exploring control of irrigation at the municipal football fields based on smart sensor data. With the help of these sensors, the municipality will save water during the warm summer months while avoiding overwatering the fertilizer, the municipality reports.

Smart Solutions

“The driving force behind our project lies in innovation, with its benefits stemming from the multitude of ideas contributed by employees in our municipalities,” Hättström says.  He adds that the integration of smart solutions brings together diverse professionals from municipalities and organizations.

“The ambition in the IoT project is to create metaphorical campfires, where collaborative discussions form new idea,” he adds.

“Current ideas aim to create a more sustainable society, where decisions can be based on factual information.”

The Need for Education

For the county, a challenge lies in organizing the data and rules related to its use for department managers. Even though TH1NG has educated around 150 employees from the organizations, Hättström says, there’s more training ahead.

Knowledge transfer is central to the project. Much of the county’s work aims to showcase the project, including organizing “IoT days” and conducting an IoT roadshow that includes visiting the municipal leadership at each community.

In the meantime, Habo’s water and sewer department plans to replace water meters with wireless meters that communicate over LoRa.

Smart Thermostats, Meters

In Jönköping, the technical office plans to equip several properties with smart thermostats, temperature sensors, and CO2 meters to improve air quality and achieve cost savings. There are plans to integrate the sensors of the IoT platform with the municipality’s Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCDA) system for property management.

”Jönköping County has a long-term IoT initiative with the ambition to realize and concretize the opportunities that IoT technology brings,” says Hättström.

In the meantime, TH1NG is expanding its presence in the Nordic region and western Europe. In December 2023, the company acquired IoT platform provider IIOOTE. The acquisition enables TH1NG to increase its presence in Sweden as well as Germany.

Beyond those areas, the company is looking to expand globally, including North America.

“We’re looking at the other countries as well and we dialogue with different businesses in other countries, for example Norway and Finland, but that’s just in the beginning,” Eriksson says.

Key Takeaways:
  • Jönköping County is deploying IoT Open LoRaWAN based solution from TH1NG across its 13 municipalities to serve an aging population and boost sustainability.
  • Early applications include irrigation control and water management.