Devon County Council has launched an 18-month trial of gully sensors that aims to investigate how smart technology can help reduce the impact of flooding across the county.
The highway authority is leading on the Devon Resilience Innovation Project (DRIP), which is deploying natural flood management techniques and smart technologies at various locations.
It is working with Previsico – a flood forecasting and monitoring company and spin-out from Loughborough University – to trial connected sensors for measuring water and silt levels at four sites across the county.
Previsico is supplying the sensors, which will be used to gain an understanding of how technology can help local highway authorities with their operational maintenance regimes, such as flood prevention and gully cleaning practices.
The first sensors have now been installed in Kingsbridge (pictured) and Ottery St Mary, with further installations planned in Braunton and Exton.
The battery-operated sensors work via a low power cellular connection to the mobile network, supplying real-time information on water and silt levels. Batteries are managed to support up to five-plus years life.
The information provided will be available to the council’s flood risk and highways teams, to improve their understanding of flood risk in these locations.
The trial objective is for Devon to gain an understanding of currently available technologies, and it will be taking data throughout the trial period to help inform ‘what good looks like’ and if there are any future benefits to the wider use of similar technology.
Devon says that while the trial is in the early stages, it is keen to share its learning as it progresses.
Highway systems manager Victoria Walsh said: ‘Devon is keen to keep pushing boundaries and make use of emerging technologies to help us work as effectively and efficiently as we can for our communities.
‘This project is very much an innovative learning trial. We intend to assess and consider new ways of working in order to keep improving our maintenance procedures.’
The January/February issue of Highways magazine will include a feature on gully sensors