Before moving to Houston, Gino Lim didn’t think too much about the rain. Having to drive through very high water in Houston many times changed his mind. With weather databases from many sources why wasn’t there be a real time picture of flooded streets?
“Why don’t we use existing technology to help EMS and, eventually, the public?” said Lim, an associate professor of industrial engineering.
Working with weather data from the City of Houston TranStar, Harris County Flood Control District and Texas Medical Center, Lim is integrating technologies to develop a real-time, flood-mapping system that’s easy to access.
Lim is interested in applying mathematical models to show the level of flooding on Houston streets. With a grant from the city of Houston for more than $400,000, Lim developed a system that will classify the flood levels of streets inside Beltway 8. Emergency crews would be able to access Lim’s color coded maps from their laptops or possibly smart phones, saving time and possibly lives.
“While they’re traveling they can look at it and maneuver different streets to see which one would be easier to get there rather than get stuck in the flood. This would be a real-time flood tracking device,” he said.
On Lim’s color-coded maps, red indicates severe flooding. Green alerts drivers that roads are passable. While, initially, the system will be used by emergency personnel, eventually the technology could be used for any flood-prone, metropolitan area.
Lim’s flood-mapping system will be tested during the next hurricane season and could be available to first responders by June 2013.
“Having the visual tool that can navigate in real time, that’s priceless. That’s the thing,” Lim said.
Gino Lim is part of what’s happening at the University of Houston. I’m Marisa Ramirez.
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