Smart City technology for urban flood monitoring and response

Flooding is easily the most damaging natural hazard around the world, occurring more frequently than all other natural disasters combined. Each year, flooding kills or injures thousands of citizens and causes hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to private and public property. Urban cityscapes are particularly vulnerable, combining large impermeable surfaces, costly urban structures, and high population concentrations to put both people and property at grave risk.

FloodAware is a multi-university project to explore a “smart city” vision of urban flood management, in which an array modern networked technologies and hydrological modeling are used to sense, predict, and inform citizens and city managers of flooding in real-time. A focus on piggy-backing on existing cameras and sensors and an incremental expansion model provides an easy, low-cost threshold of participation for municipalities.

FloodAware integrates urban cameras, existing sensor networks, social media and direct citizen reporting into a comprehensive dynamic flood monitoring network, combining these data streams to drive real-time modeling, visualization and prediction of imminent flooding, and keeping both authorities and citizens apprised of current and expected flooding risks.

A specific goal of FloodAware is to make it easy and low cost for partner cities to deploy our smart city infrastructure in cities everywhere to create a nationwide network that pour critically missing urban hydrology data into the National Water Model.

We are actively seeking partners to help us test prototypes in municipalities across the country. If you are a local or regional flood response coordinator and would like to discuss how to get your municipality or organization involved, please contact our lead investigator, Dr. Mikhail Chester.

Why does urban flooding matter?

Urban flooding is the most pervasive natural event threatening citizens in cities worldwide, present almost anytime there is significant rainfall in or around a metropolis.  The difference between a few puddles for children to play in and extensive damage to property, injury, and loss of life can hinge on just a few minutes of intensive rainfall.

$3.75B Annual U.S.
Flood Damage
99% U.S. counties
1996 – 2019**
119 Average U.S.
1959 – 1991**
$52K Average flood
claim payout by
National Flood
Insurance Program


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