Hampton Roads – a metropolitan region located in southeastern Virginia – often experiences flooded roadways due to heavy rains or higher than normal tides. Because of this, The Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (HRPDC) in southeast Virginia is creating a program that will provide real-time street flooding information on the Waze app. Waze is a crowd-sourced traffic app that posts real time traffic patterns and delays. The program should be available on the Waze app within the next few months.
As the Hampton Roads region is home to a number of military installations, HRPDC was able to receive the majority of a $220,000 grant from the Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) within the Department of Defense for the project. OEA grants funds to communities in order to support readiness and logistics at military bases.
The flooding sensor project will be testing two types of small, battery-powered sensors at 20 locations within flood-prone areas. One type of sensor will be mounted next to the road and will be able to use radar to check for water on the road at a distance of up to 10 feet (~3 meters) away. The second type uses a small transducer that measures water depth by pressure once the transducer becomes submerged in a flooding event. The sensors will be linked to a computer system through the cellular network. When water is detected on the road, the sensor will send the information to the Waze app to be posted in real-time.
The data collected by the sensors will also be made available to governments and organizations to be used to compare actual flooding with predicted flooding, in order to improve the ability of agencies – such as the National Weather Service – to predict flooding events.