The first flood-monitoring network in New York City is set to grow. The number of flood-prone areas monitored by FloodNet’s sensors will increase from 31 to 500 across all five boroughs thanks to $7.2 million in city funding.
The expansion is set to begin next month and could last up to five years. The sensors’ data is fed into a free web dashboard that residents, city agencies, researchers, and others can use to monitor and respond to flood threats.
The dashboard receives real-time water-level readings from the sensors. An interactive map shows where, when, and how quickly water is rising, whether due to seawater surges at the coast or stormwater drains that can’t handle floods.
The dashboard also contains historical data that can be used to track the frequency and severity of floods over time.
FloodNet was created by researchers from New York University, The City University of New York, Brooklyn College, and the Science and Resilience Institute.
The Mayor’s Office of Climate & Environmental Justice, the NYC Office of Technology & Innovation, and neighborhood community groups assisted them.
Solar-powered sensors from FloodNet are low-cost and open-source. They use ultrasound to detect changes in water levels and wirelessly transfer data to a gateway hub, which then transmits the data to FloodNet’s servers and the dashboard.
According to the New York City Panel on Climate Change, sea levels in the city have risen by a foot in the last century. They are expected to rise by another eight to thirty inches by 2050, and by 15 to 75 inches by the end of the century.
More detailed flood data can assist city planners and others in preparing for permanent water level rises, as well as weather events like hurricanes, which can wreak havoc quickly.