Pacific Rim countries are susceptible to natural hazards – earthquakes, tsunamis, forest fires, landslides, volcanic eruptions – that pose threats to society, built infrastructure, and economic vitality. In addition to these, human-driven hazards are impacting forests, water quality and availability, soil characteristics, and the frequency of extreme weather events. How society plans for and mitigates natural and human-caused hazards is informed by pure and applied scientific research, which contributes knowledge and actionable intelligence.
New technologies play a catalytic role in advancing scientific discovery and enhancing public safety. In urban and domestic settings, a technological revolution is connecting our built infrastructure to cloud computing: The Internet of Things (IoT). The backbone of IoT is a networked world of connected devices, objects, and people. This revolution in networked connectivity is accelerating scientific research, making our built infrastructure smarter, saving lives, and generating economic windfalls.
An emerging frontier for this transformative use of IP-based technology and cloud computing is to connect the remote, natural world: The Internet of (Wild) Things. The IoWT will use large numbers of low-power, low-cost environmental sensors embedded in the wild and rapidly-developing wireless technologies to deliver Big Data in real-time to researchers, educators, and decision makers. The IoWT will allow for the first time widespread measurement of key variables over large areas and long periods at a spatial and temporal resolution that can resolve dynamic Earth systems processes.
Our IoWT project integrates UO expertise from the Earth Sciences, Computer and Information Sciences, Information Services, OACISS, and the Network Startup Resource Center. It also builds on convergent research and technology projects that include collaborations with national and international colleagues; these projects are funded by federal and state agencies, public utilities, and the private sector.
The programmatic strengths that our IoWT project builds on have proven competitiveness for success:
ShakeAlert: The Pacific Northwest is at risk for large earthquakes associated with the Cascadia Subduction zone [Atwater,1987]. UO faculty and technicians maintain and monitor ~150 sensors located throughout Oregon. Since 2014, UO has been working with university partners and the USGS to develop ShakeAlert, a west-coast wide earthquake early warning system. As a result, UO faculty and staff have expertise in site installation, data telemetry, and data aggregation that directly informs the IoWT project.
AlertWildfire: The expansion of seismic monitoring that supports ShakeAlert is closely tied to other critical multi-hazard monitoring efforts. In partnership with the University of Nevada, Reno, the UO is expanding the UNR AlertWildfire network [Smith et al.,2016] into Oregon with BLM funding. Microwave-based communications systems developed to transfer seismic data in real-time have thus expanded to provide multi-hazard monitoring for wildfires. Because ShakeAlert & AlertWildfire utilize the same network, they leverage a key opportunity for partnership and resiliency that provide a proven foundation for IoWT.
Landslides: Cascadia landscapes are prone to diverse styles of landsliding and our previous work leverages high-resolution lidar topographic data and dense seismometers arrays with traditional chronology methods to map and characterize landslide-prone terrain. The emergence of low-cost, low-power sensor networks provides an unprecedented opportunity for the real-time characterization and prediction of hydrologic response and slope movement, particularly triggering related to rainstorms and earthquakes [Zhang et al.,2017;Intrieri et al.,2012]. Data streams will inform basic research related to physical processes as well as hazard management and risk mitigation.
Volcanoes: The UO has long standing expertise in studying volcanoes and the recently endowed Volcanology Cluster positions us to be a world leader. Cascadia hosts a range of volcanoes types. Sensors deployed on the IoWT will enable novel studies of volcanic processes and of how volcanoes shape, and are shaped by, their environment including vegetation and ecology, hydrology, ice, and erosion. Such an interconnected web of sensors will transform our ability to assess the hazard from erupting volcanoes. These strengths and collaborations (e.g., with the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory) will allow us to target multidisciplinary research grants focused on volcanoes and their interaction with Earth systems.