Can a city be smart? The scientists and technology experts at KAUST certainly think so. They have been working on a number of smart solutions to help deal with issues like traffic congestion, water management, and urban flooding.
Raghid Shreih, a Technology Portfolio Manager at KAUST’s Technology, Transfer and Innovation Division (TTI), works with KAUST researchers to protect, manage and commercialize KAUST’s intellectual property portfolio. He’s been involved with evaluating many of the smart city systems developed at the University.
“The world’s urban population is growing very rapidly,” says Shreih, “and this is presenting a lot of new challenges for cities, particularly in terms of urban planning and infrastructure, public transit, traffic congestion and pollution. As cities become more densely populated, there is also the risk of severe weather incidents causing a lot of damage and casualties. KAUST researchers are developing solutions to address some of these problems.”
Our latest technology video explains the integrated sensor system for monitoring urban floods and traffic congestions.
One of these solutions is a dual-usage wireless sensor system that tracks traffic congestion and flood incidents in cities. Using a combination of ultrasonic range finders and infrared thermal sensors, the system can monitor traffic flow and roadway flooding, and can be deployed on a large urban scale to provide real-time, highly accurate data on current conditions.
“Because flash floods are extremely rare events, there is not really an incentive to deploy a dedicated infrastructure to address these problems,” said Prof. Christian Claudel, lead inventor of the system. “We wanted to have traffic sensors that would also be capable of detecting flash floods as a secondary application—therefore, the marginal cost of sensing flash floods is zero.”
With storms and floods accounting for nearly 70 percent of the world’s natural disasters, this smart technology can provide up-to-the-minute warnings and allow rapid response to emergency situations. The data collected from these sensors is sent to central servers for assimilation with satellite data, forming real-time maps and forecasting the future path, intensity, and speed of floods and traffic.
This is just one of the many smart systems developed at KAUST.
Shreih says, “The technology being developed at KAUST can be adopted by company and industry partners who will be able to integrate it within their systems and use it to build new infrastructure projects for the cities of the future.”