OpenSense First In-Person meeting in Prague!

For the first time, scientists, researchers, and industry partners will meet in Prague to discuss the possibilities of using a wide range of opportunistic sensors for predicting and monitoring rainfall

Personal weather stations operated by amateurs, commercial micro and mm-wave links that form the backbone of cellular networks, and antennas receiving signals from satellites. These unconventional types of devices as well as many others, will be used as opportunistic sensors in the near future for rainfall forecasting and monitoring, flood early warning systems, hydrological modelling predicting floods and droughts, agriculture water-budget needs, urban drainage, traffic management, telecommunication, insurance risk calculation, just to name a few.

Scientists and other specialists will discuss the possibilities of collecting data from such sensors, defining standards, and developnew scientific methods and ways to implement such data for the purpose of opportunistic precipitation monitoring.

This international workshop of the COST (The European Cooperation in Science and Technology ) OpenSenseAction will take place in Prague during the 28th to 30th of June, 2022, and is organized by the Faculty of Civil Engineering of the Czech Technical University (CTU).

This workshop’sparticipants are diverse: from scientists representing universities and research institutes from more than 20 countries throughout Europe and nearby territories, through experts from European-states meteorological institutes, cellular companies representatives, to consultants working in the fields of meteorology, urban drainage and implementation of IoT in smart cities.

“Meteorologists, hydrologists, radio engineers, statisticians and IT experts specialising in signal processing and machine learning will come from twenty countries. In addition to representatives from the Czech Republic, there will be experts from the UK, France, Austria, Norway, Israel, the Netherlands and other countries. The event is unique in that it is attended by both scientists researching data collection technologies and the owners of the data, such as cellular companies and operators and developers of home weather stations.Representatives of hydrometeorological institutes interested in improving their forecasts of rainfall and flood events, as well as consulting firms looking for new opportunities in the field of hydrometeorology will also participate” explains Dr.VojtěchBareš, from the Faculty of Civil Engineering, CTU, Department of Hydraulics and Hydrology, who is an expert on opportunistic rainfall monitoring and is leading the OpenSense Action.

One of the goals of thisthree-day workshop is to establish strategies to make this unconventional data accessible and usable with networks of conventional meteorological measurements (such as weather radar or rain gauges), in real-time. For example, Dr.VojtěchBareš and his team will talk about their specific experience – using mobile operators network data for sewage and wastewater treatment plant management.

“During the meeting, we will address how to improve and increase the availability of observations of rainfall using such non-conventional opportunistic sensors, and try to establish how to integrate these observations into existing observational systems,” explains Dr. Martin Fencl from the Faculty of Civil Engineering, CTU.He continues: “Considering current climate changes, we expect an increase in the amount of extreme precipitation and its destructiveness, and therefore an increase in catastrophic floods. Even in developed countries, the density of existing dedicated precipitation sensors is not sufficient to correctly monitor extreme precipitation events, while in emerging and developing countries the quality of measurement is unfortunately significantly worse and the impacts of these events are usually more devastating. The number of non-traditional sensors capable of providing real-time rainfall data is increasing dramatically and already exceeds the density of the traditional observation network by a factor of ten if not more. At the same time, periods of extreme rainfall will more often alternate with periods of extreme drought, so accurate rainfall information will help to adapt.”

Scientists have been exploring the use of such opportunistic non-conventional data sources for rainfall monitoringfor the past 20 years, when these measurements began to be available online. The number of potential unconventional sensors available is rapidly increasing. For example, the possibility of estimating rainfall intensities from data collected from sensors on the windshield wipers of cars or by processing images of rain from street cameras has only recently been explored.

Furthermore, in recent years the meteorological services of a number of European countries have become increasingly interested in the subject. “One of the reasons for such interest is the fact thatthere are orders of magnitude more unconventional sensors than traditional ground-based observations, and they are increasing,”addsDr.VojtěchBareš.

The COST OpenSense Actionstarted in 2021 and will continue until 2025.

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