SSPEED research at Rice University
A new multi-university research center that focuses on predicting and planning for disasters caused by hurricanes and tropical storms is developing a prototype smart-sensor system that can offer real-time analysis of flood risks and water quality hazards in Houston-area waterways.
The Watershed Information Sensing and Evaluation (WISE) system is a project of the Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disaster (SSPEED) Center. Based at Rice University, the center was established in May 2007 following legislation signed by Gov. Rick Perry.
Co-principal investigators of the Houston Endowment Inc.-funded project are SSPEED Director Philip Bedient, the Herman Brown professor of engineering at Rice; and SSPEED Co-director Hanadi Rifai, professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Houston.
The researchers will install in-stream water quality sensors in test areas in urban drainage watersheds, including Brays and Buffalo bayous. They will collect and analyze water quality sensor data, state-of-the-art radar rainfall, and land-use data from GIS information using advanced geographic databases.
Researchers will use their findings to refine a computer model that can predict flood and water-quality risks related to land use and topography. The results will be published on the Internet so city and emergency officials can quickly respond to specific storm threats as they occur.
In addition to researchers from Rice and the University of Houston, the SSPEED center includes researchers at Louisiana State University, The University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, Texas A&M at Galveston, Texas Southern University, and The University of Texas at Brownsville. It also involves the Houston-Galveston Area Council, a council of local governments.