Dublin City University Water Institute and Kingspan, with support from Dublin City Council, have joined forces to develop an affordable smart sensor network for water level monitoring which could help provide solutions to the wide-scale flooding recently witnessed across the country.

The technology has real time capability and an app that can be easily downloaded and accessed by end users. When river waters rise to a certain level, sensors send out a warning alert, via SMS, to a local business owner, farmer or householder in a vulnerable area.

The low-cost sensors developed by Kingspan have been deployed at a number of locations on the River Dodder, with the data being analysed by DCU Water Institute. The affordability of the sensor means that it is scalable and can be used as part of a nationwide network of sensors which can be widely deployed to measure water levels in a series of locations to predict floods and heightened water levels that may occur after bouts of heavy rainfall.

Barry Finnegan Technical Director Kingspan Sensor commented, “This collaboration highlighted how the public could benefit if a river/tidal level network was put in place nationwide. The Kingspan sensor level measurement hardware and software disciplines are core to Kingspan sensor’s technical capabilities. Monitoring 30,000 tanks in 24 countries around the world has helped us to develop the skill set needed to detect, transmit and host useful data to end users and local authorities. The level data coupled with key hydrological knowledge has shown us the potential power of low cost predictive networks.”

“We ultimately see the results of this collaboration with DCU and DCC being used by everyone as it is affordable and easy to deploy. End users can check river levels on an app to give peace of mind while local authorities and municipalities will benefit from the profiling data that is so important in understanding river and tidal behavior in real time.”

Data collected from the sensors can provide vital information in relation to the behaviour of rivers, how they flow and how these flows are affected by rainfall. Past heavy rainfall events can be analysed to reveal the effect on water levels at various points in the catchment. When used as a predictive tool, this data can allow authorities and individuals to react pre-emptively, rather than reactively, to predicted heavy rainfall.

Prof. Fiona Regan, Director of the DCU Water Institute said; “The sensor data can inform us where we need to build flood defences and ultimately, it could be connected to a smart system of automated flood defence barriers, that would erect themselves automatically once a warning signal alerting dangerous water levels was received.” Fiona goes on to say, “We need to integrate our data streams so that we have the best information getting to the end users, agencies or public to inform them in the best way possible.”

This innovative collaboration was made possible through Dublin City Council’s Smart City programme which encourages a collaborative approach to solving city challenges. Dublin is positioning itself as an ideal testbed for smart and innovative technologies. A centralised smart city co-ordination function was established in 2015 to facilitate the deployment of new technology opportunities, in particular in the area of Internet of things (IoT) and big data.

Dublin City Council’s Smart City Lead Jamie Cudden is extremely impressed with the initial results, saying, “This is a perfect smart city collaboration where the city council’s flooding engineers are working alongside an Irish MMC (Kingspan) and a local university (DCU) to experiment and test a low cost flood monitoring solution that is fraction of the price of currently available equipment. The potential this solution offers is enormous as moving forward we could deploy multiple units across problem catchments to better predict and communicate flood risk to residents.”

For more information visit: http://www.kingspanenviro.com/ie/brands-2015/kingspan-sensor/

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