Monday, December 16, 2013

Using balloons for flood warning

As highlighted in some previous posts about community flood warning in Nepal, it is challenging to get the attention of a community and give them actionable advice on what to do during a flood. 

Traditionally sound (e.g. from sirens) has been used for warning. However, urban sound pollution and the noise of heavy rain makes such sirens less effective. Malaysia just announced an innovative program for flood warning using balloons. 

Ahmad Phesal (second from right) with Ahmad Husaini (right) at Monday's balloon launch. (source)
KUALA LUMPUR: RESIDENTS of flood-prone Kampung Kasipillay and surrounding communities  can now act fast to take precautions, thanks to City Hall's Flood Warning Balloon.
The balloon is a project of Innovative and Creative Hybrid Group, City Hall and the Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID).
The Flood Warning Balloon, which cost RM120,000 [roughly $12,000 USD], is the first in the world, and was invented to warn residents and road users in the event of a flash flood.
When a sensor detects that the water level of Sungai Batu has risen to a dangerous level, a siren will sound and the balloon will gradually rise to a height of 50 metres in the air. It will rise to 70 metres when the water reaches a critical level.