A stormwater smart city: Quantify the function of stormwater green infrastructures with real-time sensors

PI: Ethan Yang

Co-PI(s): N/A

University: Lehigh University

Industry partner: Sanborn Head & Associates

Flooding causes a significant amount of economic loss and is an increasing threat to US cities due to the effects of climate change, and growing urbanization. The goal of this project is to use sensor nodes to quantify stormwater green infrastructures’ functionality, by measuring related hydrologic components like water level or infiltration and visualize real-time results to inform flood mitigation measures at the city scale. A joint team between Lehigh University and Sanborn, Head & Associates, Inc. will work with Bethlehem Township, PA to make the township a “stormwater smart city.” Three project objectives will support this goal. The first objective is to work with the township’s stormwater management committee to identify flood-prone areas and existing (or planned) green infrastructures in the township using historical flooding records as well as the latest terrain data. Five potential green infrastructure sites will be selected based on their suitability (1. connection to flood-prone areas, 2. accessibility, and 3. security). The second objective is to assemble and install Internet-of-Thing-based stormwater sensor nodes on selected sites. These state-of-the-art sensor nodes are not commercially ready, therefore, different parts of the node (e.g., computer chip, mainboard, solar panel, box, etc.) need to be purchased separately and assembled, programmed, and tested in the lab. After that, we will install these sensor nodes in the field and make necessary adjustments with the help of township engineers to make sure these sensor nodes will conduct real-time measurements and send data to a web dashboard. This third objective is to use real-time stormwater data to inform flood mitigation plans and engage with stakeholders. The collected data will be visualized on the web dashboard to prove scientifically supported evidence of green infrastructures’ functionality and the results can help the township to schedule maintenance of green infrastructures or communicate with property owners.