How It Works: Near Real-Time Tracking of Rainfall in Florida's Everglades
How It Works: Near Real-Time Tracking of Rainfall in Florida's Everglades
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How It Works: Near Real-Time Tracking of Rainfall in Florida's Everglades
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Software tool OneTouchPM tracks massive amounts of data for the South Florida Water Management District through an interface with Google Earth Enterprise. This will convert data to a visible format to enable better decision making.

Every 15 minutes, the South Florida Water Management District receives massive amounts of data from more than 33,000 virtual gauges that track rainfall from Orlando, Fla., to the Florida Keys. The gauges relay the rain totals to the district’s information system, and officials use the data to make real-time decisions about flood control measures in the Everglades and management of the region’s water resources.

But there was just too much data for efficient analysis. District officials turned to Burns & McDonnell to convert the rainfall data to a visible format that would help enable key decisions.

Officials could view static images but wanted to see the information over time, similar to a Doppler radar weather animation.

“Our experience using Google Earth™ Enterprise to create OneTouchPM™, our software tool that tracks real-time progress on construction projects, provided a base of understanding that applied here,” says Wes Hardin, Burns & McDonnell project manager. “By using the same type of Feature Manipulation Engine translations to extract information from the district’s database, we knew we would be able to create a near real-time animation of the rainfall across Florida.”

Hardin’s team matched rain gauge data locations with Google Earth™ geospatial data to create the color animation. Team member Ryan Boyce also wrote a program to update rainfall totals every 15 minutes and provide accumulation totals for periods ranging from six hours to 30 days, expanding the utility of the tool as a base for key decisions.

After seven months, Burns & McDonnell completed the project — a bit of a surprise to district officials. “They told us after the fact, they didn’t think we could do it,” Hardin says.

For more information, contact Wes Hardin, 816-822-4361.

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