Department of Homeland Security Releases Low Cost Flood Sensors Urban Installation Guidebook

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) recently released the Low Cost Flood Sensors: Urban Installation Guidebook to help communities deploy and operate low-cost sensors for flood monitoring and management. The guidebook is the end result of a recent 18-month operational test of S&T’s low-cost sensors (LCS) in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina and outlines best practices for other regions across the country when implementing their own sensor infrastructure.

“S&T partnered with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services (SWS) for the leadership in flood risk management and technology innovation,” said Dr. David J. Alexander, DHS senior science advisor. “The Flood Apex program was looking for partners interested in driving research to action. Charlotte stepped up to the plate offering a unique opportunity to evaluate and demonstrate new risk methods and technologies in a living laboratory that experiences inland and urban flash flooding and occasional hurricane-related flood events within a large and growing metro area. The community guidebook is a key outcome of the project. S&T is optimistic that the guidebook will find a wide audience since it was developed by a local and nationally-recognized community leader in storm water services and flood risk, is in line with current FEMA and commercial insurance trends, and can take advantage of emerging technologies, such as the new low-cost flood sensors and other risk tools from the project.”

The guidebook covers the LCS placement and physical installation, pre-deployment activities, the LCS testing process throughout the project, and acts as a reference for daily operation and maintenance of the LCS network. It gives recommendations regarding identifying the desired locations of LCS based upon local flood risk and the selection of vendors and software to support the system.

Jeff Booth, director of S&T’s Sensors and Platforms Technology Center, said, “Our collaboration with Charlotte-Mecklenburg allowed us to modify the sensors and provide additional functionality specifically needed by local communities. Their knowledge, experience and recommendations on installation, monitoring, operations and maintenance will help other communities with their investments of a low-cost sensor network for flood hazard mitigation.”