Students at an IoT bootcamp held at MIT have developed sensors that could help in forecasting flash floods and minimising the damage they cause.
At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a recent six-day IoT bootcamp saw students from Turkey design an early warning system for flash flooding that could help to solve a perennial problem in their home country.
Every year, flash floods cause injury and death in Turkey, along with significant damage to property and infrastructure. On the basis that preparation for those floods is key, the MIT bootcampers recognised that it’s important to figure out when and where they are most likely to occur.
The secret to this knowledge, however, lies underground, in the sewers and drainage channels that run beneath a town or city’s roads and pavements, as a recent blog post from Sensora, one of the sponsors of the MIT IoT bootcamp, points out.
“Armed with this information, quick action can be taken to evacuate or even protect property against flooding. The first step is to place sensors that measure these subterranean water levels and then integrate them with a system that alerts the appropriate personnel when levels reach critical thresholds.”
A cost-effective response
While wiring the entire underground sewer and waste water systems of every Turkish city affected would be cost-prohibitive, LPWAN connectivity – and more specifically, LoRaWAN technology – provides a more accessible way to build a flash flood early warning system, the bootcampers decided.
They implemented a LoRaWAN network to power water-level sensors, each connecting to a LoRaWAN-enabled gateway. The data gathered on water levels allows for alerts to be sent via email or SMS.
The students also demonstrated a traffic control scheme that green-lighted evacuation routes for traffic. This system would give people extra time to vacate dangerous areas, where necessary.
“The bootcamp was a fantastic example of how IoT solutions could make an incredible impact on society,” said Vivian Li, co-founder and CSO of Sensoro, and a participant at the event. “In this particular case, it could save countless lives and injuries and help avoid or mitigate property damage.”
The water-level detection system developed by students is an example of the potentially life-changing impact that the IoT and LoRaWAN-based technology could achieve.
“Although the potential market space for the IoT is increasingly recognized, the general conception in terms of the potential use of the IoT remains limited”, added Li. “As well as leading the way in the technological development of the IoT, Sensoro also hopes to increase the awareness of the true capabilities of this technology across all areas of society.”