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A disaster response inspired by basketball

Intelligent flood warning system helps communities to prepare in real time

  • by Neil Townsend
  • 29 Apr 19

Case study

SolveX38 is an intelligent flood warning and monitoring system providing real-time information to communities at risk from flooding. The system monitors water level rises in rivers and when it reaches a critical level, computes the time before floodwaters reach the community, allowing them to take action. Solve X38 provides real-time SMS updates which respond with information on current water levels as well as the SMS blast at critical high water levels. Solve X38 will also provide the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management team authorised access to the public address system.

Robotics professor Jonathan Cartilla says he was inspired to develop his intelligent flood warning system after watching basketball – especially the last two minutes of the quarter.

“That’s when you see players elbowing one another, running faster than ever, because they know how little time is left. They’re all thinking ‘What can I do to maximise the time available?’” he explains.

Throughout the Philippines, communities are at risk from landslides, mudslides, flash floods and high waters. And each year, many people perish. Women, children, the sick and those with disabilities are particularly vulnerable. The problem is that they don’t have an advance warning system that gives them enough time to protect their homes and livelihoods and evacuate safely.

Professor Cartilla and his team have developed SolveX38, a solar-powered intelligent flood warning and monitoring system that gives real time information to communities at risk from flooding. Their system monitors water level rises in rivers and when they reach critical level, computes the time before floodwaters reach the community, allowing them to take action. Solve X38 provides incremental SMS updates, which respond with information on current water levels as well as a SMS blast when water levels reach critical height. The system also broadcasts this information in local dialects, critical to reaching as many people as possible.

“Other systems have used sirens, which are effective because everyone understands it’s a warning, but it doesn’t tell you how much time is left. SolveX38 will be an answer to flood concerns developing countries in providing crucial flood information in their communities.” he says.

Solve X38 can also provide local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management teams authorised access to the public address system, which is important for coordination.

The project was developed in consultation with local people from the City of Carcar and has dramatically changed the approach of disaster management for local government – allowing them to focus their rescue effort on those who are left behind. It’s also strengthened responsiveness during local evacuation drills. Currently, Solve X38 monitors the vertical rise of water and Professor Cartilla and his team are eager to develop it further to include horizontal changes, particularly pertinent during flash floods.

More Details on the Innovation

Problem: People living in high-risk flooding areas do not get sufficient warning to protect their homes, their livelihoods and evacuate.

Solution: A solar-powered intelligent flood warning and monitoring system that gives real time information and works in tandem with local government.

Current status: Seeking investment to develop the product further including to us to develop an industry grade motherboard for our system. This project has been supported by Tuklas Innovation Labs.

Business model: Each river system needs at least two SolveX38 nodes at a cost of US$24,000.00 each.

Proposition: The project aims to serve all Local Government Units with river systems that are prone to flooding. Implementing the system will generate employment.

Prospects: SolveX38 will be an answer to flood concerns in many developing countries by providing crucial flood information communities.

The Founder: Robotics professor Jonathan Cartilla

Endorsements: Engineers, local government agencies, local communities

Contact:  jojocartilla@gmail.com / jonathan.cartilla@deped.gov.ph

Read more about other innovations from the DEPP Innovation Labs.

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