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article imageChicago tackles urban flooding with the 'Array of Things'

By Karen Graham     Aug 14, 2017 in Technology
Chicago - Because of the wide range of environmental factors impacting our lives, from air quality and traffic to urban flooding and noise, the use of sensors and cloud computing have become increasingly valuable tools for managing and planning urban environments.
Two recent stories in Digital Journal discussed smart cities and the increase in urban flooding brought on by climate change. Ken Hanley introduced readers to Chicago's new technology being used to create a digital blueprint of Chicago's underground network of sewer, water, electricity, gas, and other services delivered by about 30 different companies.
Like many major cities in the U.S., Chicago has been plagued with urban flooding that dates back to the early 1800s. Many of the problems experienced by the city are directly related to its low-level topography and the fact that the city is largely built upon marsh or wet prairie. Combined with a temperate climate and urban development in open lands as the city expanded, water run-off has been substantial.
And to give credit where credit is due, Chicago has fought back against urban flooding, including the building of a Deep Tunnel system that helped to decrease the flooding of city streets.
A breach in old tunnels beneath the city flooded streets  buildings and subway lines along State and...
A breach in old tunnels beneath the city flooded streets, buildings and subway lines along State and Dearborn streets in 1992. CC License: Attrition, No derivitive work.
UTC/University of Illinois, Chicago
But with the increase in extreme weather events and the frequency of heavy rainfall events doubling since the 1970s, Mayor Rahm Emanuel set in motion Chicago's Green Stormwater Infrastructure Strategy in 2014. That strategy has grown to maturity with the launch of The Array of Things in January 2017.
The launch of the Array of Things
Using sensors and cloud computing, the pilot project provides an innovative solution to Chicago's urban floodwater problems. The Array of Things, AoT, was launched in January this year. The AoT project is led by Charlie Catlett and researchers from the Urban Center for Computation and Data of the Computation Institute, a joint initiative of Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago.
The system's software and hardware design, known as Waggle, was developed at Argonne National Laboratory by Pete Beckman, Rajesh Sankaran, and Charlie Catlett.
Creative Commons  attrition and no deriviyive.
Creative Commons, attrition and no deriviyive.
Array of Things
What is the Array of Things?
The AoT uses an interactive network of sensors placed at strategic locations around Chicago to collect real-time data on the city’s environment, infrastructure, and activity for research and public use. The information collected is open to the public and free. Think of the AoT as a "fitness tracker," taking the pulse of factors that affect the livability of the city, such as climate, air quality, and noise.
One bigger bonus in using the AoT is the that the data will allow researchers, policymakers, developers, and residents to not only work together in taking specific actions to mitigate a problem but make meaningful decisions affecting the city as a whole. Another added benefit of the AoT system is that it supports the development of innovative applications, such as allowing residents to track their exposure to certain air contaminants, excessive noise or even traffic congestion.
Location of the first sensors installed as of January 2017.
CC License-Attrition-No derivitive
Location of the first sensors installed as of January 2017. CC License-Attrition-No derivitive
Array of Things
Right now, AoT measures temperature, barometric pressure, light, vibration, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, ozone, ambient sound intensity, pedestrian and vehicle traffic, and surface temperature. And not to worry, continuing research and development R&D, will be adding measurements for other issues of interest, like flooding and standing water, precipitation, wind speed, and pollutants.
And just so everyone knows, technology and policy have been designed and incorporated to specifically minimize any potential collection of data about individuals.
More about array of things, smart cities, Climate change, urban flooding, Infrastructure
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