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Improving Flood Prediction Assimilating Uncertain Crowdsourced Data into Hydrologic and Hydraulic Models

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In recent years, the continued technological advances have stimulated the spread of low-cost sensors which triggered crowdsourcing as a way to obtain observations of hydrological variables in a more distributed way than the classic static physical sensors. The main advantage of using these type of sensors is that they can be used not only by technicians but also by regular citizens. However, due to their relatively limited reliability and varying accuracy in time and space, crowdsourced observations have not been widely integrated in hydrological and/or hydraulic models for flood forecasting applications. Instead, they have generally been used to validate model results against observations, in post-event analyses.

This research aims to investigate the benefits of assimilating the crowdsourced observations, coming from a distributed network of heterogeneous physical and social (static and dynamic) sensors, within hydrological and hydraulic models, in order to improve flood forecasting. The results of this study demonstrate that crowdsourced observations can significantly improve flood prediction if properly integrated in hydrological and hydraulic models. This can be a potential application of recent efforts to build citizen observatories of water, in which citizens not only can play an active role in information capturing, evaluation and communication, but also can help improving models and thus increase flood resilience.


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