September 29, 2020

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Vietnam receives support for smart sensors to combat flooding

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) awarded a $400,000 grant to Griffith University researchers to develop a network of energy-efficient smart sensors that will help Vietnam combat flooding.

The project aims to create a web of micro-sensors spread throughout Ho Chi Minh (HCM) City to monitor flood levels in real-time. Associate Professor Dzung Dao, Head of Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Design, is leading the project along with Saigon Hi-Tech Park Labs and the University of Southern Queensland.

Dao noted that HCM City, which is the largest city in Vietnam, faces weekly deluges of floodwater that severely impacts more than 60% of its citizens and causes severe economic loss every year. The first step to overcoming the problem is developing a sensory system throughout the city that monitors water levels to find out exactly where and when it is flooding.

Several flood detection systems have been tried in the past, but as these used cameras and conventional sensors and communication systems they were costly and had power consumption issues, he noted.

As per news reports, the energy-efficient wireless sensor network will use tiny nano-sensors, that can be mass-produced for a fraction of the cost and with significantly lower power consumption. Hundreds of these sensors deployed on land and in rivers will wirelessly feed flood information back to a hub on the internet creating a smart long-range sensor network.

The team discovered that as the sensors get smaller, they start to take on interesting properties. They get increasingly sensitive to changes in the environment and get stronger, Dao explained. The hot and humid weather, heavy rain, and high outflow from rivers, urbanised areas, and obsoleted sewage systems also leads to poor performance and lifespan for flood detection sensors. However, the new, tiny silicon carbide sensors are robust enough to withstand a long deployment in these harsh environments.

The internet-linked sensor network will act as an early flood detection and warning system. It will assist emergency services and warn citizens in the city via a mobile phone application, helping people avoid flooded areas and mitigating human and economic losses in HCM City.

The sensor network is also the essential first step to developing an automated response system for the prevention of local flooding in the city using stormwater drainage infrastructure to capture, divert, or pump water to less flooded areas. Once the team has a proof-of-concept of the smart monitoring network in HCM City, it envisions similar systems being installed in further regions of Vietnam and other countries also affected by economically crippling flooding.

Vietnam has been pushing for more energy-conscious solutions and recently launched the online EVNSOLAR platform for roof-top solar power.

As OpenGov Asia reported, EVNSOLAR provides comprehensive solutions for potential investors, including both households and enterprises, in developing rooftop solar power. Customers will have easier access to contractors who can offer reasonable prices, as well as banks and financial organisations that provide credit support solutions.

The contractors joining the platform must commit to providing products and services that meet the quality of German evaluation standards. Soon, the platform will be developed for mobile applications and its tools and technologies will be further improved to promote connection and interaction among users.