Over the last number of years we have seen an increase in flooding events across the Dublin region often caused by a combination of factors such as overflowing river banks, coastal storms or blocked or overloaded drainage ditches. With over 55,000 gullies across the city Dublin City Council needed a more efficient way of understanding which gullies are blocked so they could respond more quickly and reduce the impact of flooding.
As part of Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Programme Dublin City Council and Enterprise Irelands launched the Gully Monitoring Challenge in 2017 to seek innovative solutions that could improve local authority responses to flooding. The aim was to use technology to maximise the use of limited resources by monitoring gullies, especially in high risk areas.
Phase 1 of this project saw six companies; Blenheim, Carra, MJB Innovation, mSemicon, Voguetek and Danalto, test, trial and develop sensor products that monitor water levels within gullies and report on flooding incidents. Working closely with the Dublin City Council’s Gully Monitoring team, the solutions were assessed and three companies secured funding for Phase 2. The success of the project resulted in an extension of Phase 2 where by Dublin City Council continued to work with companies Danalto and mSemicon to develop 50 bespoke, low-cost gully sensors.
These sensors are now being deployed in targeted areas across the Docklands. The sensors monitor whether a gully is clear or if it is blocked. Using a low powered wide area network they send information back to the Council to shows the status of the gully e.g. clear or blocked on a dashboard. The detection of a blocked gully will trigger an alert to the Council’s Gully Monitoring team allowing them to deploy resources to clear the gully. Having a view all of the gullies on one dashboard, the Council can better manage operations through real time data and predictive analytics.
“Through the SBIR challenge we now have fully working prototypes deployed across Dublin – we never expected to be at the point where we would be deploying low cost sensors that provide real time data from the hostile and grim environment of a Dublin gully.” – Roy O Donnell, Gully Manager, Dublin City Council
- Real-time information allows local authorities to prioritise resource deployment to the areas that need it most.
- More efficient responses to blocked gullies will reduce the number of flooding instances and flow on effects such as road closures.
- Through collecting information about when drains are blocked the Council can use predictive analytics creating a more efficient pre-emptive clearing schedule
- The benefits of developing solutions through a pre-commercial procurement process, such as the SBIR programme, has allowed for front-line local authority staff to co-create solutions to this challenge.
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