IoT technology powers an interactive Oxford flood map and sensor network

By: Nominet

Localised, flood-monitoring system for the first time in the UK
flood network dashboard

 

Nominet, in association with the Flood Network, is today launching an interactive, online map which visualises river and stream levels around Oxford. The map, showing how technology can be a part of flood defence systems anywhere, has been developed following a successful pilot project with the Oxford Flood Network. The project has been focused on exploring the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT) to create an extensive, localised, early-warning system for flood-prone areas for the first time in the UK.

The Flood Network is powered by two pieces of innovative technology developed by Nominet:

  • A set of IoT tools to help innovators build and scale IoT applications in real environments. The tools utilise existing internet standards, such as DNS, to provide proven scalable solutions with an existing support eco-system.

The map, an application built on top of the tools, is being released as a beta version today to gather feedback from local residents and encourage further community engagement. Over 30 IoT devices have been deployed to date, including sensors to monitor water levels in the streams, groundwater and basin of the Thames and Cherwell rivers, and more sensors are being added over time. The map also consumes data from the Environment Agency’s sensors mounted at locks in the nearby area to provide as comprehensive a picture as possible.

Russell Haworth, CEO of Nominet said, “As we have demonstrated with the Flood Network, the Internet of Things goes well beyond the home into a multitude of real-world, practical applications that can support infrastructure and environmental monitoring. If this can work in Oxford, it can work anywhere, and recent events have underlined the importance of effective monitoring systems when flood waters begin to rise.”

Adam Leach, Director of R&D, Nominet commented on the development, “The Flood Network demonstrates an important use of IoT in a real smart city environment. This project has allowed us to develop cutting-edge tools based on hands-on experience gained in the field. We are now applying this to new and exciting IoT applications, along with our expertise of running a key part of the internet infrastructure, to take our technology a step further.”

Ben Ward, Director of Flood Network added: “This map will show the water situation at street level and help people to make better decisions as when a flood occurs, we can complement existing models with live observations on the ground. We’ve been working with great volunteers across the city to make the Flood Network happen, and we’re keen to get more on board to get an even clearer picture of Oxford’s water situation. As the network grows and connects more places, it gathers data which can be fed back to the authorities to improve flood models, leading to better defences and emergency responses.”

The Oxford Flood Network map can be viewed here: http://map.flood.network and and anyone interested in implementing a Flood Network in their area can get in touch with hello@flood.network.

Nominet is part of the Smart Oxford Project Board which is scoping out and developing smart city approaches, and exploring how technology can help solve some of city’s own unique challenges from congestion to connectivity.

About the Flood Network

The Flood Network is run by Director Ben Ward, a veteran of the UK Internet industry and a relentless innovator. He’s often found speaking at industry conferences and recruiting volunteers to help improve the Flood Network’s technology. As a resident of Oxford and active member of the local technical community he wants to see Oxford thrive and develop a talent hub. Contact Ben at hello@flood.network

This posting originally appeared on the Nominet website on 8th December 2015.

Nominet’s IoT Tools: breaking down the silos

By: Bryan Marshall, Nominet

Today sees the Oxford Flood Network map going public. We’ve been working on this community-based project for over a year now and thought it was a good time to explain the technology that is behind it.

Nominet’s IoT Tools

When we set about designing the systems for the flood network we wanted to avoid getting “locked-in” to any one technology vendor, preferring instead to select interoperable tools on a case-by-case basis. We soon found that unfortunately, unlike the good old Internet, there was a lack of such tools available. So we made the decision to build our own tools for the Flood Network, while designing them to be flexible enough to be used on any IoT project.

As a result we have developed a useful set of IoT tools that can be applied to far more than the Flood Network. These tools are designed to work independently of each other, moving towards the componentised, IoT architecture that has been much discussed but rarely seen in real applications. They are outlined below.

IoT Registry

IoT registry

The IoT Registry is a universal directory for connecting IoT devices to services. It utilises the established, scalable and proven capabilities of the Internet Domain Name System (DNS) to identify and connect devices and data streams. Each device and datastream has customisable meta-data fields associated with it to help with deployment management. For instance, you can record the time when a device was last calibrated.  

IoT Bridge

IoT Bridge

The Bridge is for processing, transforming, and distributing data from IoT devices. It can receive and request data via established protocols, such as MQTT(S) and HTTP(S) and can process any type of data that a device might generate. Once a data payload is in the Bridge it can be pushed or pulled to other services in a very generic manner, as well as transformed using Javascript as required.

Datastore

The Datastore is for long-term storage of data from IoT devices. It is comprised of a collection of databases most suited and optimised for different data types. There is an InfluxDB solution for time-series data, a dedicated image store and generalised MongoDB component, allowing data payloads to be stored in a variety of formats.

Data Analytics

Data Analytics

The data analytics tool can take disparate datasets and perform deep analysis on them. For instance, if an IoT device needs debugging because the raw data looks very discontinuous over time, the analytics tool can compare the data against other datasets collected over the same period. It can perform cross-correlations between data streams and also includes statistical analysis tools.

Geo-visualisation tool

Geo-Visualisation tool

The geo-visualisation tool allows sensor data to be easily published on a user-friendly map interface. The look of the map can be tailored depending on the application and geographic features can easily be associated with the data.

Turing for IoT

Turing for Iot

Turing uses patent-pending technology to provide a unique real-time picture of the traffic on IoT networks. The tool was originally developed to help Nominet monitor the .uk domain and has been proven at scale, capturing and analysing over 4 billion DNS packets per day. Because the IoT Registry is based on DNS it has the instant benefit of being able to use Turing in this environment. It provides a massive amount of information about the IoT traffic on the network and can quickly identify anomalies such as security breaches and system misconfigurations.

Next steps

Our aim now is to two-fold. We will continue to develop the systems for the Oxford Flood Network, adding new features, such as an open data interface. But as an applied R&D group we are also working on other real-world projects to test our IoT tools in different situations. The first of these is our very own smart car park solution for our Oxford Headquarters, which you will be able to read about soon!

car parking solution

– Bryan

This posting originally appeared in the Nominet R&D blog  on 8th December 2015.