Monday, 12 September 2011

IBM technology speeds up flooding predictions

IBM Logo 2 Researchers from IBM and the University of Texas at Austin have devised a way to speed up simulations of river flow and hence flood predictions, allowing more time for disaster prevention and preparedness.

IBM has applied the advanced analytics to river systems, weather and sensor data to predict the Guadalupe River’s behaviour at more than a hundred times the normal speed, simulating thousands of branches of the river.

Traditionally, flood prediction methods focus on the main stems of the largest rivers, leaving out the tributaries where flooding starts. But IBM's new technology can simulate tens of thousands of river branches at a time. The team is applying the model to predict the entire 230 mile-long Guadalupe River and over 9,000 miles of tributaries in Texas. In a single hour the system can currently generate up to 100 hours of river behaviour.

By coupling this sort of analytics software with advanced weather simulation models, river sensors, radar precipitation tracking, etc. the authorities and emergency services can make early plans and pinpoint potential flood areas. The increased speed also helps in urban and suburban areas where flash flooding can be caused by severe thunderstorms.


It’s a good example of The Green IT Report’s sixth area of Green IT:

  1. Carbon counting and management solutions.

  2. Carbon economy systems, e.g. carbon reporting, compliance and trading.

  3. New infrastructure/transport projects, e.g. smart grids, road charging systems, public transport optimisation, etc.

  4. Enterprise solutions – greening data centres, facilities management, optimising logistics/transport, etc. 

  5. Renewable energy generation and distribution, e.g. solar/wind-farm control and distribution systems.

  6. Climate change impact mitigation, such as weather monitoring and reporting, impact assessments, risk management systems, business continuity, real-time information, etc.

I published the above list of what constitutes green ICT in a report in 2008 and see no reason to change it (although you could, perhaps, combine the first two elements). To take a narrower view was as short sighted then as it is now.

© The Green IT Review

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