A James Cook University Professor has been working in conjunction with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in order to develop a rain gauge that sends rainfall data to ‘the cloud’ in real time.
According to a recent report, the gauge uses wireless connectivity to send information, making the need for a data logger unnecessary, thereby transforming the way climate data is collected.
Interaction between devices is known as the Internet of Things (IoT) and can be used to connect household appliances, cars, and smartphones to each other.
Using the traditional rain gauge poses problems. One of which is that there is no real-time access to the data. Another problem is the cost because high resolution data is very expensive to record.
Whereas, the University’s high-tech rain gauge is very cost effective because there is no more need for a statistician or a data logger.
Just add a very cheap Internet of Things wireless transceiver, which makes it possible to send data to the cloud.
The cloud rain gauge could be a game changer for farmers especially since checking and emptying the rain gauge is a daily job.
With properties spread across the Hinchinbrook Shire, a North Queensland farmer’s simple job can take an hour out of their day.
Moreover, they often cannot reach gauges in some paddocks for days during the wet season.
A lot of times, a contractor will have a tin perched on their fuel trailer or something like that and they use that to gather how much rain they are actually getting.
But that information can only be obtained if the farmer gets there and records it.
The University’s cloud gauge could be a game changer for them because it would allow them to make more accurate decisions about their operations from the comfort of their home.
It would be ideal to get more accurate information when the farmers are harvesting so that they know exactly what is going on before actually going out there.
It took six months to develop the cloud rain gauge, which is being tested in Innisfail in north Queensland. This region is one of Australia’s wettest regions.
It is expected that the device will be able to collect and transmit data even in remote or inaccessible locations.
The low cost of the technology is beneficial as it made high-resolution rainfall data affordable for farmers and citizen scientists.
The James Cook University’s Internet of Things Engineering degree was considered to be the first in Australia to specialise in IoT.
The Department, according to Professor Wei Xiang, was very focussed on developing technologies that were potentially useful.
Overall, IoT is an applied research. This means that everything they do must have an impact on society, on the industry, and on the community.
They want to see people using their technology to see the real benefits, and this cloud rain gauge is just one of the examples.