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Sensor Grid Predicts Imminent Flooding 51

An anonymous reader writes, "NewScientistTech has an interesting story about a river sensor network that not only measures water depth and flow, but also forms a wireless computing grid to calculate possible flooding scenarios." From the article: "If the river's behavior starts to change, the network uses the data collected to run models and predict what will happen next. If a flood seems likely — because it is rapidly rising and moving quickly — the network can send a wireless warning containing the details... [A researcher said:] 'One end goal would be that people living in areas that flood can install these themselves. They are simple and robust enough to make that possible.'"
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Sensor Grid Predicts Imminent Flooding

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  • The next step: (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by Spazntwich ( 208070 )
    Marketing a consumer version for those with certain types of roommates.
  • That's one hack that would be inevitable.
  • by Y-Crate ( 540566 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @09:37PM (#16570898)
    Unfortunately, this will not affect the real problem, which is people continually rebuilding on extremely flood-prone land at taxpayer and insurance customer expense.

    There is a difference between: "I'm building my house here, and there is a remote chance of a flood. Would you agree to help me out and spread out the risk?" and "Between me, my father and my grandfather we've rebuilt this house 4 times due to flooding. It's terrible. Give us more money to do it again."

    I'm often accused of being a liberal, but the latter group deserve nothing from the government, and insurance companies should not be compelled to grant them policies. There has to be a "Sorry, but that just doesn't make any sense" threshold when it comes to these sorts of things. National Flood Insurance and private initiatives are a good safety net that I fully support, but they shouldn't be a replacement for common sense and responsibility.
    • by Anpheus ( 908711 )
      I know this is going to shock you... but the insurance companies are aware of that. They even plan for it. They charge people based on models of how often an area gets flooded.

      People who live in a 1 year flood plain will pay far, far more for flood insurance than people who live in a 100 year flood plain. That's A Good Thing(tm). Please don't complain about the system working, or as so many on Slashdot like to put it, "There's nothing to see here, move along."
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CheeseTroll ( 696413 )
      Please show me an insurance company that would insure such a flood-prone property, or is compelled to do so.
      • by solitas ( 916005 )
        >> Please show me an insurance company that would insure such a flood-prone property, []
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          You must have missed the ".gov" at the end of that address or the giant FEMA logo at the top of the page. Sure the government provides flood insurance to flood-prone areas. That's the problem. The government runs that program at a loss and funds it with taxpayer money. There's a reason that no private businesses offer flood insurance to flood-prone areas; it's a huge waste of money.
      • /me points in the direction of Capitol Hill.

        Why our government, of course; the world's biggest insurance company, and the only one dumb enough to underwrite such a policy.

        No sane insurance company would write half the policies that the National Flood Insurance Program does, because they know better. They can't just depend on a steady stream of money from nowhere to keep them afloat financially, at the same time that their insureds may be literally; companies in the real world have to at least break even ove
    • by Skagit ( 910458 )
      Usually, it isn't so easy. We know where the floodprone areas are. We've got FIRMettes [1], flood insurance rate maps that show where the floods are known to happen, and they show the high water marks for the design flood. The problem is that the design flood occurs more frequently now. The spread of suburbia means less agricultural and sylvan land for infiltration, and very efficient storm water management systems that dump right into the river at speed. The weather over the short term seems to favor conce
    • It isn't solely due to people being idiots that they live in flood planes. A large majority of shipping routes travel to, and build warehousing, in flood zones. Large scale shipping operations depend on these areas, as do other industries desiring close proximity to shipping lanes. People live in these areas not because they are stupid, but because there are jobs and important transportation infrastructure as well. So long as it is profitable to do so, people will keep going back and rebuilding. Don't
  • Sensor Grid Predicts Imminent Flooding

    Holy shit!!! Where!?!?

    • I thought the same thing. Thought this might be another Katrina prediction or something.
      "Sensor Grid Able to Predict Imminent Flooding" would have made a lot more sense.
  • My main question is there a fail safe in place?

    If citizens become reliant on it they may become slow to react without the system giving the go ahead. Such assurances can be easily and unintentionally abused when those that were once advocates for common sense become used to automation.

  • I was at NYLF 2003 in San Jose and intel did a presentation on some wireless sensors they were researching. They were toting that they could be tagged onto trees and alert authorities of forrest fires at the point they started. A lot of interesting uses for this technology, although I'm sure someone will be object that it could be misused to invade one's privacy.
    • I was definitely at that same forum in '03. Seems they've started using the technology elsewhere now.
      • Haha I was in the dev alliance ... remember EFFF? I still have that stuff installed on my computer. I made the image for the main character. Sorry for not having much time w/ the presentation ... that group kinda fell apart.
        • Hah! No way, what a chance encounter on slashdot. I've still got the final release of EFFF on TheJeffFiles. I still wear the TDA shirt too, heh, though it's starting to get a bit old and small now sadly. You should add me on msn, We can toss around any programming stuff we've been doing lately.
          • Yeah, it's weird too because today's the first day I've posted to slashdot ever. I've always watched without participating much.
  • does it run linux? I for one welcome our pack-computing, chewing gum-sized, wi-fi sensory overlords
  • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @09:58PM (#16571078) Journal
    Oh, wait, this is Slashdot, not Fark. My bad....

    Actually, some of this is really interesting technology. A few projects along these lines have been Motes and Smart Dust at Berkeley, and at least one of the groups named their project after the Larsen Localizers from Vernor Vinge's books even though getting that small is a ways out. Gumstix is a bit bigger, so there are a few more options and a bit less work on customization required compared to the smaller devices.

  • Overkill? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @09:59PM (#16571096) Journal
    The river swale, also in the Yorkshire dales, used to have a water level up the dale at Muker which rang a bell in Richmond police station about 40 miles downstream so that the police could come out and clear the tourists picnicing on the river banks when there was a cloud burst up on the tops and the sun was still shining in Richmond and the river was about to rapidly rise.

    Reading the article I wonder whether this vastly more complex system is really going to work when the river is in full flood and metre sized boulders are scouring out the river bed and banks. I've seen Bluetooth mice having trouble communicating in indoor conditions at a distance of 2 metres.

    Still it is not all bad - at least the sheep will get to enjoy their own WiFi connection.
    • by grcumb ( 781340 )

      Reading the article I wonder whether this vastly more complex system is really going to work when the river is in full flood and metre sized boulders are scouring out the river bed and banks.

      I was watching the Chinese Grand Prix formula one race a few weeks ago, and saw a perfect example of why all the instrumentation in the world can't replace human experience and instinct. The Ferrari (sp?) technicians were all lined up in their booth, dozens of screens of input scrolling past them. But when it started

      • Mk.1 Eyeball (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Kadin2048 ( 468275 )
        I for one would much sooner welcome some old guy sitting on his porch by the river bank than any number of wireless water-sensing overlords.

        The best part is that the NOAA has a "sensor net" for that type of 'remote data sensor' already. It's called "SKYWARN []" (beware, there is some sort of hideous applet or something on their page, it got my machine's HD thrashing for half a minute while FF froze) and it provides some really good coverage of stuff that might not get picked up by mechanical sensors. It wouldn
  • Is the plan to augment the NOAA's flood watch program, or are they planning on mostly commercial applications?
    • Hopefully it will either replace their predictions or help them. My mother in-law lives next to a river and they're predictions have been off by amounts that have bad results. A few feet is the difference between being safe and the first floor flooding for some people like her. More accuracy for this sort of thing is long overdue and much needed in many areas.
  • ...named Smart Sensors Find Floods [].

    On sensors, read this story on the OGC [Open Geospatial Consortium] specifications []. If you look at this [], you'll find more interesting stories on the Sensor Web, including the SensorMap from Microsoft Research [] and new RFID technology for instant forest fire alerts []. (yes yes, this is mostly on-topic shameless plugs! ;-)
  • Sensor grid predicts flooding? HEAD TO THE HILLS EVERYONE!!!

    Well, actually I'm just building a large boat for me and all my animals, but I'm already in a rather high area so should be ready by the time it gets to me :)
    • by Duckz ( 147715 )
      when you do get flooded be sure to get a good assortment of various meaty animals so you can feed the survivors a hearty meal.
  • [A researcher said:] 'One end goal would be that people living in areas that flood can install these themselves. They are simple and robust enough to make that possible.'

    Ummm... Would that be the people that are simple and robust or the technology? Either way, surely this is a win-win scenario in an election year, right?
  • I live in Czech Republic, where couple of years ago the country experienced the worst floods ever, and even the capital city was flooded.

    We knew about the flood, we knew about it's magnitude. There was just nothing we could do about it. Dam management worked their butts off, but dams could not hold the water and it poured OVER the dams.

    It's not like you're can build 50ft wall around the river in the heart of the capital city, just so once in your lifetime it would be used. Shoure it would be the solution,
  • With all the past talk of border security technology here, I read this headline as "Sensor Grid Prevents Immigrant Flooding"

  • Sensor Grid Predicts Imminent Flooding

    *accidentaly pushes glass of water off my table*

    I predict imminent flooding of the floor accompanied with pieces of broken glass


    Don't pay attention to me, I'm just trolling.

  • as you read in the article:
    "... Each node is smaller than a human fist and powered by batteries and solar panels....
    The sensors are positioned within tens of metres of each other and communicate through Wi-Fi and Bluetooth..."

    knowing that neither Wifi, nor bluetooth are very efficiently dealing with the powerconsumption, i wonder who will be changing the batteries of these sensors every so many months.
  • In Santos city, São Paulo-Brazil (yes! Where the big soccer player named Pele came from), we have a similar product, which is operating for 4 years and working fine! As part of city is localized over an island, with an average of 2 meters of height, it had built a network of drainage channels crossing the city, discarding the excess of pluvial waters to the Atlantic Ocean.

    This network of channels was done in the early XX century by Saturnino de Brito, making the city the best in wastewater/drainage

Life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. - Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan