Oct 22 2021

Smart Cities Connect: Regional North Carolina Coalition Shares Flood Data

The group of local governments eye additional use cases for deploying Internet of Things sensors.

Almost three years ago, a band of local governments in North Carolina decided to share collected data, primarily to fight flooding from storm waters. 

Previously, local governments hesitated to share such data because of potential political considerations, said Amber Cobb, director of partnerships for RIoT, a nonprofit established by the Wireless Research Center and sponsors such as Cisco and Oracle. But the regional governments put aside their concerns and formed a data-sharing group to collaborate on common problems.

“If you know anything about North Carolina, we are one of those states that is troubled by flooding in a really big way,” Cobb said, speaking at the Smart Cities Connect Fall Conference and Expo outside of Washington, D.C., on Thursday. “Storm water doesn’t care about government boundaries, and it doesn’t care if it runs from one city to another.”

The coalition — which includes, among others, the governments of Cary, N.C.; Raleigh, N.C.; and Wake County, N.C. — now meets at least monthly to foster the data exchange and seek ways to mitigate storm damage from flooding.

“We have some amazing government partners who are interested in capturing data and figuring out what to do with it,” Cobb said.

Data Collected from IoT Sensors May Mitigate Flood Damage

RIoT convenes partners such as government agencies for consideration of Internet of Things use cases. In the case of the Raleigh-area North Carolina community, the government alliance deploys IoT sensors for flood monitoring.

“We have this amazing data set now that allows our communities to look at it a little bit differently,” Cobb said. “We are looking forward to the next step of how we use that data for predictive analytics and how we can start reaching out to communities outside of our circle.”

Cary touts deployment of stream sensors and rain gauges within its river basins to collect flooding data and to help protect people and infrastructure from storm damage. It has deployed the IoT tech as part of its smart city program.

“The sensors provide real-time water level data, and the rain gauges record rainfall accumulation and intensity,” the town states on a website. “This data helps develop basin models to assist with stormwater planning and floodplain improvements and alerts.”

“Our visibility, before, typically came from a citizen calling up and telling us that a road was flooded,” Cary CIO Nicole Raimundo told the online news site Route Fifty last year. “Stormwater overall has become a more prevalent issue over the years, not just in Cary but in other places, because of development.”

The coalition of local governments are eyeing traffic management and trash collection as their next use cases for IoT sensors, Cobb said at Smart Cities Connect.

Getty Images / Artem Peretiatko