HCM Installs Flood Sensors Ahead of Monsoon Season

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Ho Chi Minh City is preparing in advance for the 2017 monsoon season by installing flood sensors throughout the city. Ho Chi Minh City Urban Drainage Company will install flood sensors in 32 hotspot areas of the city where floodwaters were a problem last year. The sensors will serve as a warning system to alert the city of potential floods, allowing businesses and residents to evacuate to higher ground ahead of flooding from heavy rain or tides.

The city made the decision after seeing positive results from chips that had been installed last year at five locations in the city. The hotspots included Bình Thạnh District’s Nguyễn Hữu Cảnh Street; Thủ Đức District’s Dương Văn Cam Street; Tân Phú District’s Trương Vĩnh Ký Street; Gò Vấp District’s Lê Đức Thọ Street; and District 7’s Huỳnh Tấn Phát Street.

Bùi Văn Trường, a HCM City Urban Drainage Company officer, said the company had previously sent staff to manually measure water levels and report the results. “But this created a problem because we could not proactively draft plans to tackle any rising problem,” he said.

An American company introduced flood-sensor chips to the city, but they were too expensive to install, costing hundred of millions of Dong at each hotspot. After Sài Gòn Hi-Tech Park (SHTP) manufactured sensor chips, the Urban Drainage Company redesigned them to detect changes in water levels in the sewage system.

Once the sensor results are sent to the company, they can predict whether particular sewage pipes will be able to hold increasing amounts of water caused by heavy rains or tides. Recently, the company also collaborated with the Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting Centre to forecast rainfall three hours in advance.

Rain measurements, together with water-level forecasts, sent from sensor chips placed at sewage pipes will help the company efficiently predict where and how floods are going to arise.

Trường said the company has also been working on a mobile application that uses data from the sensor chips to inform residents in advance of flooding heading to their area of the city.

Alerting vendors in flood-prone areas ahead of time allows them to vacate or take away their goods and stalls before they are submerged in water. The sensor chips also benefit authorities who can quickly allocate manpower, water pumps and other items needed to combat flooding.

Many streets in HCM City, including Gò Vấp District’s Phan Huy Ích Street, Bình Tân District’s Hồ Học Lãm Street and District 5’s Dương Tử Giang Street, on May 15th were submerged in water after a two-hour heavy rain. Drivers of motorbikes that lost power in the rain had to get off and push their bikes through the water-clogged streets.

With the installation of the new sensor chips, the city will now be able to alert and resolve problems at flood hotspots, effective immediately.

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