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ASU engineers want to use traffic cameras to warn about urban flooding

PHOENIX — A group of Arizona State University engineers is leading a team of researchers that is working to use infrared technology to warn motorists about flooding in urban areas.

Margaret Garcia, an assistant professor at ASU’s School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, said the team wants to use traffic cameras that take still images during the day and at night to determine whether there is standing water on roadways.

The cameras would be pointed at curbs and gutters to observe potentially flooded intersections.

“We’re going to take those images when we have rainfall that’s occurring or a forecast that shows rainfall is coming soon and we’re going to use algorithms to process those images to first detect if there’s standing water or not,” Garcia told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Garcia said if standing water is detected, they could use an image processing algorithm to see how deep it is and whether it’s safe for motorists to pass.

The cameras could also help determine whether flooding is occurring in areas where there are not cameras, according to Garcia.

“Having those data points at several locations around the city, we can calibrate our model and then estimate in what other areas flooding is likely or not,” Garcia said.

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