The UI LABS impact starts in Chicago and extends across the country, with projects underway from coast to coast.

City Tech: Managing Stormwater through the Cloud

The need for better stormwater management is clear: flooding in the Chicagoland area due to excess stormwater over a five-year period resulted in more than 181,000 claims of property damage with a total estimated cost of $773 million, according to the Center for Neighborhood Technology. Nationally, total flood insurance claims average more than $1.9 billion per year, according to FEMA.

Flooding is local, but its causes are system-wide. Through targeted deployment of green infrastructure across the larger system, cities can help address the flooding happening now and remain resilient in the face of future changes to climate and weather patterns.

City Tech Collaborative has deployed a new solution that combines sensors and cloud-based analytics to evaluate the performance of sustainable stormwater management techniques. Using data collected from green infrastructure sites in Chicago, the platform helps to reduce urban flooding and prevent millions of dollars in property damage.

City Tech and its partners have installed sensors at three green infrastructure sites in Chicago to collect water runoff data. The ability to securely collect, publish, and interpret the data is enabled by combining technology and expertise from Senformatics, a startup that grew out of the University of Illinois; Opti, a provider of continuous monitoring and adaptive control of stormwater infrastructure; and data and cloud capabilities within the Microsoft Azure platform. By generating quantifiable data, the technology enables a performance-based management approach and better informed capital planning for infrastructure investments, such as the $50 million the City of Chicago has allocated for green stormwater management.

Annmarie Levins, General Manager for Technology & Civic Engagement at Microsoft sees the value of this platform clearly: “Innovative approaches like this system will empower engineers, researchers, and policy-makers to dissect the water and environmental issues facing cities and assess and implement creative solutions.”

In the coming months, the team plans to install sensors at two new Chicago locations, analyze historical and live-streamed data, and provide site-specific design recommendations. The performance data will be made public through the City of Chicago’s open data portal in 2017.

The partners in this project include three City of Chicago departments—the Department of Innovation and Technology, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Water Management—along with Microsoft, Opti, Senformatics, and AECOM. Additional thought leadership and pilot support was provided by West Monroe Partners and Glasswater Technology.



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