As climate changes and populations increase, more and more communities are challenged by increasing risk associated with flooding. As the second most widespread natural disaster that kills an average of 95 Americans annually, the implications of flooding events have a high economic cost as well as devastating social consequences. According to a Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) study, today, more than 175 coastal communities are affected by the rising sea levels that put them at higher risk to chronic flooding by the year 2045.

 However, by using real-time data from a wide range of IoT (Internet of Things) devices,  Cities can create innovative and more accurate predictive flood models. With this information more readily available and in real-time, cities can be proactive, rather than reactive leading to responses that can significantly reduce these risks to flooding events.

 Changes to our climate is bringing rain that can cause water walls ranging from 10-20ft in a matter of minutes or hours. For example, in 1990, Shadyside, Ohio experienced four inches of rain in less than two hours – creating a water wall 30ft high and flash flooding that caused 26 fatalities and damages in excess of $6 million. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned that 25 states along the Mississippi faced flooding through May 2019. The heaviest flooding occurred along the Mississippi basin in North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri. Some areas had snow and rain levels two times greater than average.

Fybr’s water management and smart city solutions enable cities to react proactively to managing flood risks. With an end-to-end solution designed to collect and analyze real-time data using multiple sensor types ( radar(USGS and NOAA approved), soil moisture, and hyper-local weather), Fybr’s water management solution delivers real-time dynamic prediction models that can indicate where flooding is going to occur and at what rate the water can be expected to rise/lower.

Most importantly, Fybr’s platform allows all these disparate sensor types to seamlessly communicate on a single network/platform – reducing cost and infrastructure.

CASE STUDY – Lehigh County, PA

Fybr partnered with the Lehigh County Authority (LCA) – a regional public water authority located near Allentown, Pennsylvania – to develop a proof of concept (POC) on six bridges along Little Lehigh Creek using Fybr’s bridge-mounted flood monitoring system. Fybr’s water level radars at each bridge location collect and transmit water depth data to Fybr’s IoT platform. The water level data is immediately available for real-time alerts, improving response to bridge flooding events, which can dangerously inundate surrounding roads. The collected data becomes available for historical reports and determining thresholds for predictive analysis for future flooding events. Fybr’s water level monitoring system is wireless and solar-powered – allowing for a truly wireless installation in remote locations. 

After the initial six proved beneficial, the city expanded the pilot to twenty additional bridges, and 36 sewer access points – including five flow monitors.

CASE STUDY – Norfolk, VA

Climate change, sinking land, and changing ocean currents have turned Norfolk, VA, into an example of how vulnerable coastal cities are to flooding. Over the past two decades, the city has experienced twice as many days of tidal flooding as it had in the previous three decades. At the same time, a warming climate has brought more frequent heavy rainfall events. 

Fybr was invited to the city of Norfolk by RISE Resilience to take part in an evaluation of several IoT networks that support water level monitoring systems. As an organization, RISE is focused on community revitalization, water management, and resilience measurement in coastal flood zones – with a current initiative to seek out creative products and solutions to five resilience-related topic areas: water management, data analytics, buildings protection, critical systems functionality, and connected communities. 

The Fybr water level monitoring system in Norfolk combines a number of sensor technologies that collect data on contributing factors to coastal flooding. Fybr has built a flood alert early warning system that combines water level radar sensors, soil moisture sensors, and hyper-local weather stations. These contributing factors to coastal flooding can now be monitored by real-time data and algorithms developed to help protect communities in Norfolk, including Hampton Roads.

The data provided from smart water management systems can change the way cities approach the issue of flooding events. The information and learning from this technology can lead to improved communications within communities, less economic impact, and enhanced public safety.