Smart flood warning project a sign of Griffith success

An innovative electronic road sign project co-developed by Griffith University that enhances commuter safety has been awarded at the 2019 Get Ready Queensland Resilient Australia Awards. 

The Community Award acknowledged Substation33 and the low-cost automatic flood warning signs made with recycled e-waste, which were developed for Logan’s Flooded Roads Smart Warning System by Griffith University researchers in partnership with Logan City Council. 

Dr Jarrod Trevathan, from Griffith’s School of Information and Communications Technology and Institute for Integrated and Intelligent Systems, played a key role in the Substation33 project and accepted the award on behalf of Griffith from Minister for State Development Cameron Dick. 

The project was among eight resilience projects awarded that have helped Queensland communities better prepare for natural disasters and emergencies. 

Substation33 is a social enterprise founded six years ago by in the Logan suburb of Kingston. 

The electronic waste recycling centre turns old laptops, computers and household appliances into innovations such as electric bicycles, Bluetooth speakers and a solar trailer to provide power to local festivals for free.  

Dr Trevathan said the project’s humble beginnings to improve public safety through the use of low-cost automatic flood warning signs made with recycled e-waste had evolved to become Awards winner with scope for it to roll out even further. 

“I started working with Substation33 on my remote water quality monitoring system where I shared my ideas and helped them to develop a dashboard for the road signs to remotely stream telemetry about each road crossing’s status,” he said.   

This data is now linked to Logan’s official disaster dashboard and provides real-time information about road crossings during flooding events.   

We also adapted the electronics from my water quality monitoring platform and developed a water height monitoring system. This platform is placed on a bridge pointing down at a water body and uses an ultrasonic sensor to gauge the water level height.   

These devices are being trialed in several locations around the city, and there are now 70-plus road crossings in operation around Logan and the Sunshine Coast. 

Dr Trevathan is an expert in low-cost environmental monitoring technologies and ecommerce security and fraud algorithms. His focus area is low-cost technologies for water quality assessment and flood monitoring. 

The Queensland Resilient Australia Awards recognises initiatives and projects centered on risk assessment and mitigation; education, training and research; community engagement; and response and recovery. The award is administered by the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience (AIDR). 

Each award-winning Queensland project will now be reviewed by the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience, with selected projects to be nominated for a National Resilient Australia Award on October 31.