Out of sight, out of mind is what the water industry typically runs up against. However, innovation in the stormwater and wastewater industries is critical for improving the quality of our subterranean water networks and bringing some insights to life. We had the pleasure of interviewing Erin Rothman, the CEO of StormSensor, Inc., to shed light on the innovative uses of Sensor Technology for Watershed Monitoring in our most recent Coffee & Compliance webinar. Erin is a leader in developing the IoT sensor networks that are pioneering the way for sewers and storm systems of the future. In this blog I’ll be providing a quick recap of the key issues we discussed.
Why are sensors important?
Sensor technology allows cities and entities to respond to vulnerabilities within watersheds and networks, and is critical for benchmarking the performance of green infrastructure. With better sensors, large-scale systems that cover an expansive space are better equipped to develop controls within that space – but only if they are able to capture and visualize the data. In the webinar, we discussed how StormSensor is often thought of as the “GoogleMaps of sewers.” Erin says that “the data collected helps cities better understand how water moves in their subsurface infrastructure (think Google Traffic Maps for water), meaning cities can operate more efficiently and effectively, and make more informed decisions on capital improvements.” Better data allows municipalities, large industrial/commercial sites (e.g. ports and airports), and campuses to save money through targeting maintenance where it is needed the most, but also, allows scientists with better access to data for sewer networks and stormwater systems planning and modeling. StormSensor’s powerful alerts and analytics will also help cities monitor and prevent urban flooding and measure the impact of sea level and all water level rise on infrastructure.
“Hardware is hard.”
StormSensor’s affordable IoT sensor networks are “metering the last unmetered utility” in providing data for flow, depth, and temperature – but it is a huge challenge to collect information from complex, underground systems. In confronting the “out of sight, out of mind” perception of sewers, Erin poses the question: how do we capture data over a large area in real time and underground? StormSensor is solving this question by deploying networks of sensors and devices throughout large areas. Designing sensors that are sensitive enough to collect quality data, but also robust enough to handle the harsh, sewer environments is a challenge that StormSensor continuously tackles.
The Future of Environmental Compliance
Software and IoT is the future of environmental compliance; these technologies are beginning to blend together to provide a comprehensive analysis of your environmental programs. IoT allows us to collect the data, and software empowers us to analyze the information. The more expansive the data, the easier it is to incorporate into software and develop a dashboard to visualize and identify trends. A platform which enables visualization of environmental data leads to deeper insight – so not only do we understand what the problem is, but with knowledge ahead of time via predictive models and analytics we have a better chance of solving a big issue early in its life. Whether it is calculating sea water rise, analyzing lab data, or visualizing water networks and systems, IoT devices are integral to comprehensive environmental programs and we are excited to see others innovating in this space as a complement to Mapistry’s environmental compliance platform.