UTA engineer uses advanced sensing, crowdsourcing to predict urban water flow, city needs

October 20th, 2014
A UT Arlington water resources engineer has been awarded a four-year, $1.2 million National Science Foundation grant to improve sustainability of large urban areas from extreme weather, urbanization and climate change.

D.J. Seo, associate professor of water resources engineering in the Civil Engineering Department, will lead a team of researchers who will integrate data from advanced weather radar systems, innovative wireless sensors and crowdsourcing of data via cell phone applications to create high-resolution modeling of urban water systems.

The resulting urban water prediction system will use cloud computing to produce a suite of products for flash flood forecasting, inundation mapping, water quality forecasting, storm water management, urbanization impact assessment, climate change impact assessment and adaptation, and other applications. The project also will eventually aid local governments in determining infrastructure needs to minimize flooding.

Khosrow Behbehani, dean of the College of Engineering, said Seo's work creates a more sustainable environment in urban areas.

"Urban areas are of high importance as they are particularly susceptible to flooding and drought due to population growth and climate fluctuations," Behbehani said. "This project will look at not only water quantity but water quality as well through the use of sensors. It will advance our understanding of urban sustainability and the associated challenges through environmental, social and economic needs of a large city."

The UT Arlington-led team includes: Zheng Fang and Xinbao Yu, assistant professors in civil engineering; Jean Gao, professor in computer science & engineering; Michael Zink, assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst; and Branko Kerkez, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Michigan.

Seo's grant was one of the largest grants awarded this fall through the NSF's Cyber-Innovation for Sustainability Science and Engineering, or CyberSEES, program. The awards aim to advance the science of sustainability in tandem with advances in computing and communication technologies.

The two- to four-year grants ranged from $100,000 to $1.2 million and are designed to bring together teams of researchers from computer science and other disciplines to develop new tools, technologies and models that advance sustainability science.

Seo's project builds on his previous work to help establish the Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere, or CASA, radar system in North Texas. UT Arlington installed the first radar station in North Texas atop of Carlyle Hall in 2012 as part of Seo's research.

The CASA system provides weather data every minute compared to every five to six minutes with previous weather radar systems. CASA can adapt to focus on smaller areas, giving the users more detailed information to better monitor and track storms and precipitation.

Since 2012, CASA radar systems also have been installed in Denton, Midlothian, Addison and Cleburne with other installations planned.

Through the new CyberSEES project, Seo's team will depend on North Texas weather spotters for ubiquitous water observation, which will be used to improve the quality of model predictions.

"We want to develop a cell phone app that anyone can use to tell us how deep the water is and how fast the water may be ponding at numerous locations throughout the area," Seo said.

Provided by University of Texas at Arlington

This Phys.org Science News Wire page contains a press release issued by an organization mentioned above and is provided to you “as is” with little or no review from Phys.Org staff.

More news stories

China auto show highlights industry's electric ambitions

The biggest global auto show of the year showcases China's ambitions to become a leader in electric cars and the industry's multibillion-dollar scramble to roll out models that appeal to price-conscious but demanding Chinese ...

After Facebook scrutiny, is Google next?

Facebook has taken the lion's share of scrutiny from Congress and the media about data-handling practices that allow savvy marketers and political agents to target specific audiences, but it's far from alone. YouTube, Google ...

Is dark matter made of primordial black holes?

Astronomers studying the motions of galaxies and the character of the cosmic microwave background radiation came to realize in the last century that most of the matter in the universe was not visible. About 84 percent of ...

Muons spin tales of undiscovered particles

Scientists at U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories are collaborating to test a magnetic property of the muon. Their experiment could point to the existence of physics beyond our current understanding, including ...

How social networking sites may discriminate against women

Social media and the sharing economy have created new opportunities by leveraging online networks to build trust and remove marketplace barriers. But a growing body of research suggests that old gender and racial biases persist, ...