“Radar has a spatial resolution of a quarter of a mile and a temporal resolution of 15 minutes,” says Ram Vasudevan, another UM engineering professor. “In contrast, wipers have spatial resolutions of a few feet and temporal resolutions of a few seconds, which can make a huge difference in predicting flash flooding.”
Earlier this year, the European Academy of Sciences reported the number of floods and extreme rainfall events increased by more than 50% this decade and happen four times more often than they did in 1980.
“Because of the sparseness of radar and rain gauge data, we don’t have enough information about where or when it is raining,” Vasudevan explains. “If you have fine-grain predictions of where there is flooding, you can efficiently and effectively control water networks to prevent all sorts of dangerous chemicals from contaminating our water supply due to runoff.”
Creating a blanket of sensors across a city for street-level data on rain events would be costly. But using connected vehicles taps a resource that can be easily put in place now and will only grow larger in the future as more cars are added into the IoT.