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Can RFID Manage Flood Risk?

Posted By RFID Journal, 05.21.2010
As I understand it, the physical properties of radio frequency identification are not constrained by water. I am thinking about using RFID tags as sensors for flood detection, as well as for monitoring water elevation, flow speed and perhaps water quality. Are there any studies or implementations pioneering the use of radio frequency identification in this manner?

—Georges

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Dear Georges,

RFID could certainly be used for the applications you describe, but no company or government, to my knowledge, is currently looking at the technology for this use.

I do know that the U.S. military put out a contract for a company to develop an active RFID device that would float on water, connected to a sensor that could continuously monitor water supplies for three common waterborne pathogens: Vibrio cholerae (V. cholerae), Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Giardia intestinalis. The system would employ RFID to issue an alert if dangerously high levels are detected (see Protecting Water Supplies). I do not know if such a device was ever deployed.

It might be possible to deploy mesh networks of RFID-based sensors along coastlines, to provide an early-warning system if flood waters rise, though the cost of such sensors might be high. It might be cheaper to have hardwired or GPS-based sensors. But in the future, I think RFID-based mesh networks could be a low-cost way to provide this early warning to residents of flood-prone areas.

If any of our readers have heard of radio frequency identification being utilized in this way, please post information below.

—Mark Roberti, Editor,
RFID Journal

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