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IoT Solutions Detect Floods and Proactively Minimize Risk

20 April 2021 / by Marc Pégulu

Marc Pégulu

IoT Solutions Detect Floods and Proactively Minimize RiskDensely populated urban cities are now home to an incredible 83% of all people living in the United States. As more people flock to the opportunities and culture available in urban areas, the risk of flooding is rising dramatically. In fact, flooding resulted in $45.9 billion in economic losses in 2019 alone.

Floodwaters often rise quickly and with little warning, leaving people to fend for themselves as emergency response teams navigate the murky, rushing water. New Internet of Things (IoT) solutions provide real-time data and insight to detect potential flooding concerns to minimize risk to life, property and business.

Flooding Is Incredibly Dangerous

Rising waters often flood quickly, leaving very little, if any, time to respond. Coastal areas have been decimated in minutes.

Jim Gray, CEO of Green Stream shared, “In many coastal towns and communities, rising water as a result of tides or rain can present a large threat.” Unfortunately, that threat is predicted to double by 2030 as issues associated with climate change compound and more people move to those densely populated areas.

Loss of Life

Of all the destruction associated with floods, loss of life is often the hardest to cope with. Even one life lost is simply too much.

When flood onset is sudden many people find themselves stranded as their homes or cars quickly fill with water. Some are even killed in their sleep. Those with limited mobility are at an increased danger and emergency response help can’t always get to everyone quickly enough.

Even relatively shallow floodwater poses risks of electrocution by downed power lines and swiftly moving water can knock anyone off their feet. A person can drown in just a few inches of water if they are unable to get up quickly.

Building Damage

Most buildings, especially in areas prone to flooding, are built to handle some water, but standing water is never good for a structure.

Water can significantly damage a building’s foundation and supports, requiring immediate repairs. Any equipment or machinery stored at ground level may also be destroyed. And, once the waters subside, mold and mildew take their place causing further damage and expensive cleanup.

Commerce Impacts

Building damage alone can significantly hurt a business, but floods cause a lot of other problems. Merchandise may be lost both in the warehouse and in transit. Vehicles, computers, machines, files, and data storage devices can all be destroyed by exposure to water.

Flooding can make it difficult for employees to get to work or keep employees barred from the building until the insurance company finishes its assessment of the damage. And, customers are not always willing to understand flood-related delays.

Sanitation Issues

If all the above weren’t enough, floods cause serious sanitation problems to people, animals, buildings and the environment. Waterborne diseases spread quickly in a flood. Rising water can carry human, animal, industrial, medical and hazardous waste, contaminating a whole city in minutes. Polluted water may cause gastrointestinal problems, tetanus, rashes, and can be deadly to those with open wounds. Even without dangerous materials floating around, water draws mosquitoes and grows bacteria the longer it sits in a building or city street.

IoT Detects Floods to Minimize Risk

Pairing long range, low power sensors such as those with LoRa® device connectivity with smart IoT applications empowers experts to continuously calculate and track water levels and depths in real time. The small sensors can be installed in hard-to-reach areas like basements, alleys and sewers to remotely track water and immediately alert teams if levels begin to rise.

IoT flood management solutions protect people, structures and systems from environmental dangers. Using the real-time data, leaders are able to build more prepared and resilient communities and minimize risk.

The sensor data can also be integrated with consumer apps to alert residents of potential danger and provide needed resources like evacuation area lists and personal safety measures. And, while Wi-Fi may go down during flooding emergencies, LoRa, the de facto platform for IoT, prevails.

Read more in the use case, “Flood Sensor Monitoring with Real-time Data”

LoRa and IoT Make Our World a Better Place

IoT solutions paired with LoRa devices make it possible to remotely measure and detect issues before they become a crisis.

Individual sensors with LoRa are networked through LoRaWAN® gateways to continuously collect data, allowing IoT solutions to analyze the situation and provide actionable insights. Since LoRa devices demand extremely low power, devices can be battery-powered for years and connect to the network wirelessly to remain in the environment without the need for maintenance. While we don’t have the power to stop floods, we can stop their damage by building proactive solutions and improving infrastructure.

LoRa devices are used in numerous environmental use cases including monitoring air quality, protecting endangered species, detecting gas leaks and monitoring groundwater systems to effectively address shortages. LoRa devices have even been leveraged by Beartooth to enable reliable communication during cellular outages common during natural disasters.

The opportunities of LoRa and IoT are endless.

We invite you to explore more Smart Environment solutions featuring LoRa on our website.


Semtech, the Semtech logo and LoRa are registered trademarks or service marks of Semtech Corporation or its affiliates.

Topics: LoRa, Wireless RF, Internet of Things, Smart Environment, ESG

Marc Pégulu

Written by Marc Pégulu

Marc Pégulu is the Vice President and General Manager for Semtech’s Wireless and Sensing Products Group.


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