New Guidebook Helps Urban Communities Install Low-Cost Sensors to Reduce Flood Risks

Floods are costly and dangerous events that impact communities across the U.S. every year. NOAA predicted above-normal activity for the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, running from June 1 through November 30. The month of August saw the unusual event of two weather systems coinciding in the Gulf of Mexico, with Marco weakening into a tropical depression just before making landfall in Louisiana and Laura slamming into the Louisiana-Texas border area as a Category 4 hurricane. In addition to high winds, such events bring storm surge concerns, and rising waters can quickly overcome citizens. Any advance notice of flood risks and the ability for emergency management agencies to appropriately plan is vital to saving lives and protecting property.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) released “Low Cost Flood Sensors: Urban Installation Guidebook” to help communities deploy and operate low-cost sensors for flood monitoring and management. The guidebook captures the process and results of a recent 18-month operational test of S&T’s low-cost sensors (LCS) in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, from the initial steps of selecting sensor locations and installation to operation and maintenance. Best practices are now available for other regions across the country to learn from while implementing their own sensor infrastructure.

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