The Floating Sensor Network is a project by researchers at UC Berkeley that provides real-time, high-resolution data on waterways via a series of mobile sensing 'drifters' that are placed into the water and monitored by cell networks and short-range wireless radios.
As the drifters are carried by the water, their GPS receivers track their movement while other on-board sensors monitor temperature and salinity levels. This data can then be used to estimate river flow and contaminant propagation in real-time and eventually be combined with other sensor data streams (USGS permanently deployed sensing stations, mobile measurements, etc) to create “traffic maps” for an entire delta, showing the speed and depth of the water, and how contaminated the water is.
The long term vision of the project is to "put California water online, to create a system that will enable water managers and scientists to visualize the evolution of California’s water resources in real time."
The Sacramento River is the first testing bed for the fleet of sensors that can also be deployed in response to unanticipated events like floods, contaminant spills and levee breaches.
The rapid deployment of such a fleet can lead to an immediate and more precise understanding of “where the water is going,” thus helping agencies to contain disasters more quickly and more efficiently. In addition to tracking contaminants, the technology can be deployed in a levee system to search for signs of levee leaks (abnormal temperatures, abnormal salt concentration) and it can be deploy around levee breach to confirm a repair is functioning properly.
Learn more about the project at http://float.berkeley.edu/ or watch the clip below for more details:
Team: Principal Investigator: Alexandre Bayen - Lead Graduate Student: Andrew Tinka - Complete list
Image Credits: University of California Berkeley
Additional Coverage: RedOrbit, CIO, OAP, Smart Planet