'Popular Science' chooses TAU flood-prediction technique as 2009 best

Popular Science choose

cellphone tower 248.88 (photo credit: Noam David )
cellphone tower 248.88
(photo credit: Noam David )
A technique developed at Tel Aviv University using cellular phone towers to predict floods has been awarded a "2009 Best of What's New" award in the security category, along with 99 other top inventions in 11 categories, by Popular Science magazine. Doctoral student Noam David of the geophysics and planetary sciences department, supervised by Prof. Pinhas Alpert and Prof. Hagit Messer-Yaron, developed the technique, which uses reception data at base stations of cellular networks to predict flooding. In areas prone to flooding such as the Judean Desert, early warnings can be obtained by analyzing data on the power of the signals received by the cellular network arteries. The power of the signal is influenced by (among other things) the amount of rain falling between the base stations. These allows estimates of the force and patterns of rainfall. Measuring rainfall on the ground, by radar or by satellite is not accurate enough, the researchers said. They monitored Cellcom and Pelephone wireless networks in the area to measure the electromagnetic force of the signals received by the stations. As the towers are a few dozen meters over the surface of the desert, the amount of rain is accurately measured. When a great deal of rain falls suddenly, flooding results. Travelers can get stuck in flooded low areas.