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We’ve been busy installing sensors around Oxford. We have several on the Thames and Castle Mill Stream area and some under floors to detect rising water when the time comes. In fact it seems the only thing we’re missing now is water. The levels are very low at the moment, but we know how quickly that can change. 

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For updates and news or if you’d like to help by having a sensor then join our mailing list here http://eepurl.com/bv2yGz and we’ll send you a sneak preview of the flood map.

Join Our Pilot Group

At Oxford Flood Network we’re building a citizen sensing project to collect detailed information on river levels around Oxford.

If you live in Oxford city, around the Thames, Cherwell, Oxford Canal or one of the many streams and think you could host an Oxford Flood Network sensor and gateway in your home then now’s the time to let us know.

We’re collecting a list of people who are happy to host a sensor (50mm x 50mm 100mm) and/or gateway device (90mm x 60mm x 26mm).

  • To install a sensor we need an overhang over a waterway, stream, river or ditch within 200 metres of a broadband router.

  • To install the gateway we need an Ethernet port on your broadband router and use of a plug. Once connected it generates a tiny amount of data each hour.

There is no cost to you for the devices, but you will need to help us keep it up and running by checking it periodically online and perhaps changing the battery once a year. We’ll use the sensors to create a detailed map of water levels around the city in higher detail than the Environment Agency’s existing sensors.

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If you add yourself to the list of locations we can talk to you about hosting a gateway or sensor. Don’t worry, we’ll never share these details outside Oxford Flood Network without your consent.

For more information contact us at:  or on Twitter:  or come and see us at the Oxford Startups Demo Night on Thursday May 14th 2015.

Winter Testing

There’s an interesting blog update from Nominet (who are much less sporadic in their blogging) talking about our work over the winter, testing the flood sensors in real conditions. Read about Winter Testing

Digital Catapult Showcase - Oxford Flood Network

During the opening season of the Digital Catapult’s HQ in London Oxford Flood Network was selected as one of 12 technology showcases. We were displayed on a big video screen in the demonstration area where you could get to see Ben talking about the need for smart cities to involve communities and citizens, improving literacy in the Internet of Things.

It also includes some words from Adam Leach, director of Research at Nominet R&D, who have been a great supporter of the project.

After The Hackday

Here’s Andrew talking at Reading Geek Night about taking a project from a hackday and turning it into a real prototype. 

Since revision 4 is imminent we thought it’d be a good chance to show the flood sensor prototype’s progression over the past year.The case is now IP67-rated and we’ve moved back to a simpler antenna. Construction time per device has been hugely reduced and we have deployment plans for getting up to a hundred sensors out. None of this would have been possible without Andrew Lindsay (http://thinginnovations.com/) and amazing support from Nominet who have been our biggest supporter.

Since revision 4 is imminent we thought it’d be a good chance to show the flood sensor prototype’s progression over the past year.

The case is now IP67-rated and we’ve moved back to a simpler antenna. Construction time per device has been hugely reduced and we have deployment plans for getting up to a hundred sensors out. 

None of this would have been possible without Andrew Lindsay (http://thinginnovations.com/) and amazing support from Nominet who have been our biggest supporter.

Oxford Flood Network News Coverage

Oxford Flood Network has been in the news as part of Nominet and Love Hz’s TV Whitespace pilot. Ben has been showing off the sensors and posing and making faces a lot for photocalls. 

http://eandt.theiet.org/news/2014/oct/whitespace-flood.cfm

Andrew’s been working away in the background developing the sensor code and some of the backend. We’re working on improving the wireless range so we can get further from broadband.

Wuthering Bytes Sensor Workshop went really well. Thanks to all who attended and helped out on the side.

Above: Intrepid Paolo fixing a sensor in place

[Credit:  ]

Below: Chris Roberts’ excellent construction work. [Credit:  ]

Documentation Update

We Have Wiki

There’s a new Wiki at https://github.com/OxFloodNet/network/wiki which we’re using to collect unstructured information like system architecture, aims and guides.

Here’s a quick preview of the block diagram which explains the parts:

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Parts List, Schematic and Gerbers

The PCB design files and a Bill of Materials are now on github which you can use to build your own sensors. The BoM is in Excel format at the moment, but we’ll try to keep things out of binary formats where possible. (PCB designs are EagleCAD format which must be binary.) 

Gateway Device still needs work

There is a lot to do on the gateway device github area. A generic base SD card image with the latest Node-RED would be a start. Any help appreciated. 

Feels like it’s coming together at last.

Workshop: Useful Information

On Sunday Ben and Andy will be running a workshop on Oxford Flood Network at Wuthering Bytes in Hebden Bridge.

If you’re thinking of joining this workshop here’s a little extra information for you. 

The Aim

Aside from the fun of participating in a citizen science project we want everyone to learn about deploying sensor networks - a critical part of the Internet of Things.

Oxford Flood Network is in the early days of development and we hope that bringing a number of volunteers together we can tap people’s skills to develop the overall flood network concept, making more flood networks possible with less trial and error.

What to Bring

Team 1 - Indoors - If you want to help assemble some sensors then please bring along

  • a soldering iron,
  • solder and
  • some side-cutters.

We’ll be experimenting with Node-RED and Raspberry Pi, so bring along:

  • Your Pi Model B and cables
  • a spare SD Card
  • A Ciseco Slice of Radio or SRF stick if you have one

Team 2 - Outdoors - We’ll be outside trying to find a suitable location for a sensor and doing some range testing before coming back indoors to help team 1.

Bring:

  • Some wellies or waders
  • (raincoat?) and
  • some ideas/tools for attaching a sensor to something.
  • Get in contact with oxfloodnet on Twitter if you have a step-ladder. (no point in doubling up)

So far we’ve experimented with these, so if you have any handy bring it along

  • velcro strips,
  • cable ties,
  • magnets and
  • Sugru.

We may just be able to use the decking of the town hall, or put the sensor under a bridge. The more inconspicuous the better.

A Word About The Sensor Devices

We’re bringing some sensor kits along and we’d love it if you could help with some basic assembly or soldering. Unfortunately due to the cost of the components you can’t take them home with you unless you can pay £140 each.

We’d like to be able to give something back to the community for having us at Hebden Bridge so we’ll be donating a sensor to the cause. If you want to crowdfund a second one then we’re all for that.

Yawn Health & Safety…

The outdoor team members will need to sign a disclaimer to make sure none of the organisers are liable for accidents. As you might expect we’re not able to guarantee your safety, but we want to keep things simple and avoid potential incidents.

  • If there’s heavy rain we may have to reconsider.
  • If we need to get into the stream it will be slippery (duh) so keep your wits about you and make sure you have a partner.
  • If we can attach from above there may be heights involved on bridges, so be sensible and don’t over-reach. It’s not worth it for a sensor.
  • There won’t be mains voltage in use outside and all equipment will operate at ~3-5v
  • Duck shit is likely

Fun!

After all that I will lighten up and remind you that this is meant to be a fun exploration of the challenges in building your own sensor networks.

I can’t wait!

Making a citizen-built flood detection network in Oxford, based on river levels, groundwater and local knowledge.

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