Having been used for decades, gauge boards remain an important means of assessing both water level and snow depth. These are solid boards with clear gradations and numerical markings for indicating depth of water (in rivers, canals, locks, navigation channels, tidal waterways, etc.) or depth of snow. They are relatively cheap to manufacture and install and, once in place, they require very little maintenance. When installed by the WeSenseIt project, small information notices are situated close by providing information about the initiative, the sensor itself and instructions on how to read and submit the sensor data. In the current phase, the latter is achieved by using the free WeSenseIt mobile application to scan the QR code on the notice (encoding information such as sensor type, geographical location, etc.) and then entering the depth observation. In order to maximise citizen engagement, sensors and notices are placed on well-used thoroughfares to ensure the submission of a sensor reading requires as little time as possible.
Low-cost sensible heat flux sensor
Evaporation from land and water surfaces is a crucial component in the water cycle. It is often the “missing link” in water balance equations, and is essential for agriculture and water resource management. However, it is difficult to measure and to quantify. Sensible heat is a component of the surface energy budget, which includes radiative, turbulent, and conductive heat fluxes. It is a land-atmosphere energy exchange related to the turbulent transport of heat under convective conditions, and is a consequence of radiative warming (or cooling) of the land surface typically by the sun.
While radiative and conductive heat fluxes are relatively easy to measure, the quantification of the turbulent heat fluxes, sensible and latent heat (heat related to the phase change of water), in the energy balance are more difficult and require expensive instrumentation (such as 3-dimentional sonic anemometers and infra-red gas analyzers). The latent heat flux is directly proportional to evaporation. The ratio of the sensible and latent heat fluxes (Bowen ratio) provides quantitative information on evaporation to the atmosphere. Thus, sensible heat flux measurements can be used to indirectly quantify evaporation.
A state-of-the-art measuring system for sensible heat flux is on the order of €10’000. Our goal within the WeSenseIt project is to develop a sensible heat flux sensor based on free convective scaling for less than 10% of the cost of the standard system, trading off some measurement accuracy. The sensor is targeted for the research community and for dedicated amateur scientists for spatially distributed environmental monitoring, and should be of particular interest in agriculture and irrigation. Sensors will be designed to integrate into wireless sensor networks for easy use in distributed environmental monitoring in the context of citizen observatories.
SmartIrrigation is an integrated solution that provides information to help farmers better design and manage their irrigation strategy to increase crop yield while saving water, energy and fertilizer. The system integrates data from our specifically designed on-site StarProbes with our Aqua web interface. These soil moisture measuring probes are mainly aimed at the agricultural sector, although they can be used for other monitoring purposes. As such, in the WeSenseIt project, the probes are used to monitor moisture levels at different depths in the soil for modelling purposes and as an early warning of an incipient flood.
Installation in Alto Adratico
Monitoring solutions for efficient management of the water distribution network and its components
Water monitoring involves many different activities, from ensuring the quality of surface or underground water, both for human beings and animal life, to the monitoring of a nationwide water infrastructure. Machine-to-machine (M2M) and Wireless sensor networks (WSN) technologies are becoming increasingly popular in this area. Based on ADVANTICSYS dataloggers and controllers, we deliver a wide range of scalable water monitoring solutions including the following:
- Water Quality: Turbidity, pH, specific electrical conductance (EC), dissolved O2(DO)
- Water Distribution: Flow & pressure levels, leakage detection, water levels
- Water Usage: Remote reading of water meters or control of irrigation in parks and gardens
Water quality monitoring involves analyzing water properties in dams, rivers, lakes & oceans, as well as underground water reserves. The use of many GPRS/wireless distributed sensors enables the creation of a more accurate map of water status, and allows the permanent deployment of monitoring stations in locations of difficult access, without the need of manual data retrieval.
Water distribution grids management demands smart monitoring solutions including not only pipes or valve condition measurement, but also water flow and level sensors. Robust certified sensors jointly with remote M2M access eases water distribution grid management in a wide area. Moreover, our monitoring products can effectively act to prevent the consequences of natural disasters, like floods. Sensing nodes have successfully been deployed in rivers where changes of the water levels have to be monitored in real time.
In order to provide a holistic approach to the Smart Water market niche, ADVANTICSYS also provides remote control of irrigation valves in parks and gardens as well as telemetry capabilities for consumer water meter. Integration of remote readings into standard Modbus monitoring networks eases data collection for Water Utilities.
ADVANTICSYS provides customized software solutions based on its Concordia software platform. Data storage, analysis and integration of geolocation capabilities are included.
At the 2014 EGU General Assembly in Vienna, Disdrometrics demonstrated that you can turn an umbrella in a raingauge by glueing a small microphone on the umbrella’s canvas. The signal of the microphone was sent to an iPhone through a bluetooth headset (the kind often used by taxi-drivers). In order to be able to test the device in our relatively small test shower cabin, a children’s umbrella was chosen as this would fit readily into the cabin.
A prototype iPhone app was developed that takes the audio feed coming from the Bluetooth headset, transfers this into dB, and plots that in a graph. The first results were positive but ambient sounds quickly influence the signal. The data are then routed to a website.
Once the technology has been developed sufficiently in terms of robustness, we plan to develop two marketing channels. The first one is most important from a citizen’s observatory point of view, namely a simple kit that can be used by individuals or in classrooms to turn their own umbrellas into rain sensing devices. The second market channel is that of complete umbrellas with built-in sensors. We do not expect these umbrellas to be a huge market success but will help to spread the idea through waterboards, weather agencies, and the like.
The presentation has received a lot of national and international press, starting with a BBC journalist who visited the poster at the EGU. Unfortunately, one does not always control the details of press representations of the project, so WeSensIt is not always mentioned in the press coverage but sometimes it is, such as in Delta, the weekly magazine of Delft University of Technology. The Blogpost by Rolf Hut contains more information.
Work is underway by project partner Disdrometrics to create an acoustic rain gauge. This novel approach allows the device to have no moving parts, be much smaller than standard disdrometers and also be much cheaper.
Several prototypes already operational in the WeSenseIt use cases (UK, NL, IT)