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Flood Beacon tests the waters with life-saving technology

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New tech could change how we handle floods

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The biblical floods of February made one thing clear: in the ongoing battle between nature and technology, nature still has the upper hand. Now, a new intiative called Flood Beacon, which broadcasts real-time information about floods could change all that.

Since the floods in England earlier this year, Romania and Tanzania have also experienced devastating flooding crises. Flooding damage costs the global economy $1 trillion every year and is expected to rise exponentially in years to come.

As vast regions of southern England were submerged under water in February, local councils sent out boats and stuck poles in mud to read water levels. This rather archaic practice, is still the primary method used to collect flood data.

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floodbeacondemoHow it works

Flood Beacon is a small, bobbing device which gathers and broadcasts live data to warn and inform people about ongoing flooding crises.

1. Flood beacons can be anchored to specific points or left to float in high-risk flooding areas such as rivers or floodplains.

2. These devices capture data about GPS location, water levels, and sudden rushes of water.

3. The data is then fed up to an API which sends push notifications or text messages to your mobile phone.

Real-time data

Sam Cox, creator of Flood Beacon said he got the idea from a video about a government-supported flood hackathon held in February. What struck him about it was how out-of-date the government’s data was by the time it was sent out to people.

Having created Bit Tag, a digital price tag which displays the price of a product with real-time information about bitcoin value, Cox is clued in on the importance of up-to-the-minute data.

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He said that news reports could only deliver information about flooding after the event itself. This delay in obtaining information could cost money and lives.

We don’t live in the past, we don’t live in the future. Our lives are based in the current, in the now.

Its about giving data to people to make an informed decision about how serious flooding is and what action they should take based on accurate information rather than predictions or old data.

Plans for the future  

Flood Beacon is still in early, developmental stages, and Cox was vague about how he plans to take Flood Beacon forward.

He hinted that councils and businesses might find the device useful to minimise downtime for businesses when flooding crises occur and said he was exploring various avenues to develop the idea.

If people seem to like it, I’m open to conversations, but for now, I just want to demonstrate it and get some reaction.

Though the product is currently in demo stage, Cox hopes it could help inform and warn people and avoid disasters as the February floods.

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