CDAIT IoT Sensor 11.08.2021

Posted November 8, 2021

The Internet of (Environmental) Things (IoET) and Coastal Management

Angelina Kim, The Center for the Development and Application of the Internet of Things (CDAIT)

            The Internet of Things (IoT), particularly through deployment of sensor technology, can provide a unique advantage to coastal zone management as coastal erosion and sea level rise are threatening coastal communities worldwide. The United States Coastline is home to up to 40% of the population, following major increases in population rise from the 1960s to now.  Many major cities are located on the coasts, and consequently, millions of homes are  threatened by climate change and sea level rise which has contributed to increased storm intensity and frequency. Internet of Things devices and sensors allow for increased monitoring and data analysis, which, applied to coastal management situations, facilitate data driven adaptation and changes in environmental planning and management.

Predictive Modelling and Improvement
The real time data collected by IoT devices and sensors can be used for modelling purposes and predicting future patterns. Use of an array of deployed IoT devices gives officials more granular data that yields a more accurate perception of patterns that allows officials to tailor their response to a locality. Coupled with artificial intelligence (AI), more accurate and improved data processing is possible. In addition, IoT devices can aid in data collection during extreme weather events when reliable data collection is especially difficult. All this data can provide information about weaknesses or areas that are more prone to danger than others. Officials could build infrastructure in these areas or assess reasons why those areas are more prone to flooding.
            IoT use is not limited to flood protection. Scientists have used IoT devices to gain more knowledge of patterns affecting coastal erosion. In the United Kingdom, scientists study coastal erosion on the Jurassic Coast, a UN World Heritage site, through IoT devices that monitor earth movement and environmental changes such as temperature fluctuations. This data is then processed and used in modelling that will be used to protect this coast. IoT devices can also be used to examine the effects of and maintenance of coastal management methods. For example, beach renourishment, a type of coastal management strategy, attempts to support coasts by adding protection. IoT technology can be used here to track sand movements and inform officials of necessary improvements.

Disaster Alerting
            In addition to IoT for modeling and predictive uses, Internet of Things devices and sensors aggregate data that can, if necessary, trigger information alerts and disaster warning. For example, sensors can monitor water levels in sewers, basements, and alleyways and the associated monitoring infrastructure  can send out early flood detection alerts to citizens. This can go even further and supporting management systems can send out information alerts should existing transmission systems fail. With location specific, timely information, people in high flood risk areas can act accordingly depending on the level of danger that the alerts present. Early detection through IoT sensors and management systems also gives people more time to respond to environmental threats, allowing people to protect their homes and assets and leave flood risk areas earlier.

Looking Ahead

            IoT in environmental uses can provide insight into how well and how effectively policies and management practices can address coastline conservation and flooding. The increased and more widespread use of IoT technology will allow for greater data collection and analysis of coastline erosion, weather and tidal patterns, and flooding risks that will, in turn, improve the responses that will be taken to confront climate change and rising sea levels. The information gained through IoT use can also drive the development of new technology and indicators. For example, analysis of the data collected could establish a correlation between certain elements; new sensors and software could be designed to reflect such connection. Through these potential applications, IoT will continue to propel innovation and change in coastal management.

For Further Reading:

Increasing Coastal Disaster Resilience Using Smart City Frameworks: Current State, Challenges, and Opportunities

Preventing Flood Damage with IoT Sensors

IoT Solutions Detect Floods and Proactively Minimize Risk

How IoT monitoring systems are enabling real time flood alerts

Minimizing Flood Risk with IoT Analytics Solutions

How IoT is Monitoring Coastal Erosion

Embedded IoT Sensor for Coastal Management and Beach Re-Nourishment Tracking