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We discuss the development and performance of a low-power sensor node (hardware, software and algorithms) that autonomously controls the sampling interval of a suite of sensors based on local state estimates and future predictions of water flow. The problem is motivated by the need to accurately reconstruct abrupt state changes in urban watersheds and stormwater systems. Presently, the detection of these events is limited by the temporal resolution of sensor data. It is often infeasible, however, to increase measurement frequency due to energy and sampling constraints. This is particularly true for real-time water quality measurements, where sampling frequency is limited by reagent availability, sensor power consumption, and, in the case of automated samplers, the number of available sample containers. These constraints pose a significant barrier to the ubiquitous and cost effective instrumentation of large hydraulic and hydrologic systems. Each of our sensor nodes is equipped with a low-power microcontroller and a wireless module to take advantage of urban cellular coverage. The node persistently updates a local, embedded model of flow conditions while IP-connectivity permits each node to continually query public weather servers for hourly precipitation forecasts. The sampling frequency is then adjusted to increase the likelihood of capturing abrupt changes in a sensor signal, such as the rise in the hydrograph – an event that is often difficult to capture through traditional sampling techniques. Our architecture forms an embedded processing chain, leveraging local computational resources to assess uncertainty by analyzing data as it is collected. A network is presently being deployed in an urban watershed in Michigan and initial results indicate that the system accurately reconstructs signals of interest while significantly reducing energy consumption and the use of sampling resources. We also expand our analysis by discussing the role of this approach for the efficient real-time measurement of stormwater systems.


Session R06, Deployment of HydroMet Sensor Networks



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