Local startup designs smart solution for detecting floods


Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — A startup from the labs of King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST) has created an innovative smart solution for monitoring floods, becoming the world’s first multi-patented flood and traffic information system with active networks.

The wireless sensing systems company Sadeem monitors and forecasts traffic and floods in real-time in cities using a combination of sensor networks, mobile applications and visualization tools to tell the public which routes to avoid and how to allocate their resources and rescue personnel during a flood.

“The network is a real-time monitoring platform which is highly valued at this time. It can give early warnings between half an hour to six hours before a flood,” its founding CEO and engineer Dr. Mustapha Mousa told Saudi Gazette.

“It’s important to have that information because the decisions people can make can be vital, saving lives and money.”

Floods are a constant source of fear for citizens in Saudi Arabia and worldwide, causing more than $40 billion in losses every year.

“The problem lies in lack of information, such as magnitude and propagation of the floods in the streets,” says Mousa, one of the patent inventors.

The idea of the product originally started in 2009 when major floods hit the underdeveloped infrastructures of Jeddah and Makkah, causing damages worth millions of riyals and the loss of over a hundred lives.

Engineers and researchers from four different countries founded the project in the past year and approached municipalities in the region and other continents to study the market’s needs and seek investments.

A team of engineers, programmers, urban planners and communication and network experts designed the product to benefit cities with underdeveloped infrastructure or poor cities that cannot afford to build drainage systems.

Without using power grid or cellular network, sensors in the device that are installed in the streets detect water level on the ground up to the centimeter and senses the traffic flow of cars.

Wireless communication is used between the sensors around the city that send to servers.

The map highlights danger zones and severity of floods, offering drivers safer routes to take and information to better allocate rescue personnel around the city.

The founders aim to prevent damage costs by at least 30 percent through the platform.

Mousa, who mentored other rising entrepreneurs, said founding a startup is a rewarding and challenging experience, describing entrepreneurship as a growing ecosystem in the Kingdom. He further added: “Young people with ideas should start right away. With the right mindset, a vision, resources, and skills to implement the action plan, they can make a huge impact.”