It’s El Nino time in the West, which means our cities see storm water runoff from heavy winter rains. Large pools of standing water form on roadways where there’s no drainage, drains are clogged, or the storm water system overflows. So much water on and around roads leads to accidents and traffic jams. Water also degrades road surfaces and erodes road beds, creating more hazards and eventually requiring road repair work.
Viewed as a challenge for situational intelligence, storm water and traffic becomes a compelling example of what’s possible. Situational intelligence features analytics of networks and space / terrain across time. Storm water and traffic is a problem of two networks–drains and roads–during the time when heavy rain is moving through the terrain.
Analytics can pinpoint crucial aspects of storm water runoff, such as:
- Places where roads and drains intersect
- Road and drain segments that need repair or replacing
- Bottlenecks in the flow of water and cars
- Times and locations where rainfall will be heaviest
- Locations of road and drain repair crews and police
Of course, meteorology continues to benefit from more sensors and computer power, making weather forecasts more accurate and providing earlier, more specific warnings of storm activity.
Once you have all this data and analysis in a single situational intelligence application, you can start to improve storm water operations and planning.
In operations, you could notify police and crews before the storm hits, so that they can be in place to help. You could also notify news agencies and social media outlets to announce what streets to avoid to prevent accidents and traffic jams.
In planning, you can predict areas where runoff will be heaviest. By overlaying this data with data about road and traffic conditions, you can target your storm system investments to places of highest risk for road damage and traffic problems. Taking a proactive approach helps you stretch your operations budgets further while also positioning you well for the next storm.
The West needs the rain to counter the past four years of drought. We’re not complaining. We just need a way to better manage the impact of heavy rains on our heavily traveled roads.